Before kidney dialysis can begin, doctors need access to a patient’s bloodstream to allow blood to travel to and from the dialysis machine. This is called vascular access. Vascular access for dialysis treatment can be placed in the arms, legs, neck or chest. The access requires surgery and can be a fistula (a permanent access placed under the skin directly connecting to an artery and a vein) or a graft (a vascular access that is created with man-made tubing that connects the artery and vein).
Fistulas and grafts need to be monitored for complications, so a duplex ultrasound is often prescribed for screening. A duplex ultrasound is a non-invasive imaging test.
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