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How to take care of AV fistula after surgery

By Laminate Medical
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AV fistula utilizes the patient’s own blood vessels and is considered to be the safest type of access. While the AVF is less prone to infection than other access methods, the AV fistula requires basic care, in order to allow for optimal health and optimal usage. Proper AV fistula care, through exercising, proper hygiene and monitoring is crucial.

AV Fistula care after leaving the hospital

  • Keep arm propped up on pillows, above level of your heart, and keep elbow straight so as to reduce swelling and reduce the risk of clotting.
  • Do not lift any weight above 10 pounds.
  • Keep dressing dry for the first 48 hours. After 48 hours, and after dressing is removed, you may bathe as usual.

Daily care of AV fistula

The Do’s

  • Reduce risk of infection by washing hands with soap and water both before and after touching AV fistula.
  • Keep skin around fistula clean by washing it with antibacterial soap often, especially before dialysis. Clean the fistula by washing and gently patting it dry.
  • After incision has healed, strengthen your arm by exercising it, as per by your doctor’s instructions.
  • Check the pulse (thrill) in your AV fistula 3 times daily – morning, afternoon and evening by both listening to the AV fistula and by feeling it. Any change in sound should be reported to your doctor. In order to feel for changes in the blood flow place fingers over fistula and monitor the motion of blood. The thrill should feel the same each time.
  • Use your access for dialysis only.
  • Look for redness or swelling around fistula area.
  • Avoid injury to the arm and protect it.
  • Ensure proper nutrition in order to keep your general health optimal. 

The Don’ts

  • Do not let anyone start an IV line or draw blood from AVF arm.
  • Do not let anyone take blood pressure from AVF arm.
  • Do not sleep on AVF arm.
  • Do not carry heavy weights with AVF arm (no more than 10 lbs).
  • Do not wear a watch, bracelet or tight clothes over AV fistula.
  • Do not allow straps or handles tighten around the fistula, it is best to avoid carrying a purse or bag on that arm.

Seek medical advice immediately if:

  • There is bleeding from AV fistula
  • There are any signs of infection, or any changes in appearance to the skin, such as swelling, red skin, pus or if the skin around the AV fistula is warm to the touch.
  • There is bulging over the AV fistula or in your hand.
  • If you have a fever of above 100.5ºF (38ºC), or chills.
  • The pulse (thrill) in your AV fistula is slower than normal, or if you cannot feel a pulse.
  • Your hands or legs are numb, cold to the touch or weak.
  • There is swelling to your arm, leg, face or neck.
  • Enlarged veins appear on upper arm or chest.
  • There is an increase in venous pressure during dialysis or a decrease in blood flowing through AV fistula.
  • There is prolonged bleeding after removal of dialysis needles.
  • There are changes in your monthly lab results.

Correct AV fistula care is crucial to your health. Laminate Medical Technology’s VasQ device aims to change in the hemodialysis vascular access treatment paradigm and reduce AV fistula failure rate.

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