Understanding What Happens During Dialysis

dialysis, what happens, kidneys, ckd, Vascular Access Centers , chronic kidney disease,

Roughly 14% of Americans are living with chronic kidney disease. When they’re healthy and working properly, your kidneys remove waste and extra water from your blood and play a vital role in balancing electrolytes in your blood. When your kidneys fail, waste builds up in your blood and can cause serious complications, including a coma.

Dialysis does the job of healthy kidneys, removing toxins and preventing wastes from building up in your blood. Managing the blood flow through the artery that acts as an access point for dialysis plays a key role in getting the most out of your treatment. At Vascular Access Centers, we’ve outlined some points to help you gain a better understanding of dialysis and what to expect.


During hemodialysis, your blood is pumped out of your body and into a machine that serves as an artificial kidney. As blood goes through the machine, a special filter called a dialyzer removes waste and toxins before the blood is returned to the body.

If you need hemodialysis, you undergo surgery to create an access point to carry blood to and from the access site, called an arteriovenous fistula. Because unimpeded blood flow is crucial for effective dialysis, many patients undergo maintenance procedures once or twice a year to ensure adequate blood flow.


During dialysis, your nephrologist monitors measurements to ensure adequate blood flow. When measurements show that blood flow is low, venous pressure is high, or pre-pump arterial pressure is elevated, your nephrologist refers you for a procedure to check for problems with blood flow.

Dialysis patients may develop narrowing or clotting of their fistula. When this happens, dialysis is less effective. The providers at Vascular Access Centers help you continue to have safe and effective dialysis by performing procedures that detect blood flow problems. The team then works to fix the problem so you can continue dialysis.

A fistulagram is a procedure that checks for blockages in your dialysis fistula. If your provider detects any problems, you receive prompt treatment so that you can continue to safely get your dialysis treatments. Your provider uses X-ray technology to look at the blood flow. If the doctor detects a problem, you need to have a procedure to reestablish good blood flow.

Peripheral angioplasty with vascular stenting

To restore blood flow, the Vascular Access Centers team can perform a minimally invasive procedure. Angioplasty with vascular stenting restores blood flow for long-term vascular access. This is a common procedure, and the team can manage any potential complications. Before catheter-based procedures, restoring blood flow required lengthy hospital stays. Peripheral angioplasty, however, only requires a few hours in an outpatient center.

The doctor first uses a special X-ray with dye called an angiogram to identify the narrowing or blockage. Once the blockage is identified, the doctor determines the best way to open it. They may choose to use a balloon-tipped catheter. The doctor moves the catheter to the blockage and inflates the balloon tip to restore blood flow before deflating and removing it. Sometimes, the doctor permanently places a stent made of tiny mesh in the blood vessel to help it remain open.

Our doctors at Vascular Access Centers provide comprehensive vascular access management to dialysis patients throughout Memphis and the surrounding areas, utilizing the latest technology to ensure patient safety. Call to schedule a consultation for dialysis access care or book online using our convenient web form.

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