Dialysis Access

We offer our hemodialysis patients as many options as possible to accommodate everyone's unique anatomy. Whenever possible, we try to use an AV fistula, which is considered the "gold standard" for dialysis access. For patients who are not fistula candidates, we also use grafts and catheters. 

The Wake Forest Baptist Health Vascular Center is also one of the largest centers for peritoneal dialysis in the region.

Types of Dialysis Access 

For hemodialysis patients, the wrist or forearm is most commonly used for dialysis access. We offer fistula, graft and catheter-based techniques.

  • Arteriovenous (AV) Fistula: Your doctor creates an AV fistula by joining an artery to a vein. The fistula takes a few months to develop after surgery. Once formed, it can last for years. 
  • Graft: Your doctor connects an artery to a vein by inserting a graft, or plastic tube, under your skin. A graft can be used for dialysis within a few weeks of placement. 
  • HeRO Graft: The HeRO graft is an option for patients with limited dialysis access who have previously undergone treatment often. It provides an alternative to tunneled dialysis catheters. With the help of X-ray imaging, your doctor inserts a tube - called the outflow component - into a large vein in your neck. This tube connects to a regular dialysis graft placed in an artery. 

Only you and your doctor can decide which type of dialysis access is right for you. Your doctor will consider many factors, such as whether veins are blocked or too small to use, and how quickly you need to start dialysis treatment.

Learn more about hemodialysis. 

Peritoneal Dialysis at Wake Forest     

Some patients may be candidates for peritoneal dialysis, a process that they can perform on their own at home. If you are eligible, your doctor inserts a small catheter into your abdomen, which sits along the lining of your abdomen, called the peritoneal membrane. 

Wake Forest Baptist Health offers two types of peritoneal dialysis: 

  • Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD): Patient attaches to a machine 4-5 times a day for 30-minute sessions. 
  • Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD): Patient attaches to a machine for 10-12 hours at night, while asleep.

Learn more about peritoneal dialysis.


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Last Updated: 08-02-2013
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.