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Clinical Services


Contrast (Dye) is injected through a needle puncture in the vascular access to determine if there are any stenotic areas (narrowing) within the fistula or graft, and/or any accessory veins or arteries. Reasons for this study could be related to the following:

1.  Difficulty cannulating the access

2.  Increased venous pressures on dialysis

3.  Excessive negative arterial pressure on dialysis

4.  Prolonged bleeding after dialysis

5.  Inability to achieve adequate blood flow on dialysis

6.  Decrease in thrill and bruit, and pulsatile site

7.  Steal Syndrome: hand below access: cold, painful, or numb 


If the Fistulagram confirms a stenosis, the physician will insert an angioplasty balloon into the stenotic blood vessel. The balloon is inflated to dilate the vessel to improve blood flow. Angioplasty will improve dialysis, and could help prevent the fistula and graft from clotting.  

Thrombolysis (De-clot)

Fistulas and grafts can become clotted for various reasons. There will be an absence of a bruit and thrill within the access. Grafts have an increased incidence of clotting over fistulas. Once a positive determination has been made by the dialysis nurse or physician the procedure will be scheduled. A special catheter (embolectomy catheter) will be introduced through a needle puncture in the fistula or graft, and clots will be removed. If the reason for the clotting is due to a stenosis, an angioplasty will be done during the de-clot procedure.  

Tunneled Cuffed Catheter Placement or Exchange

Many times a tunneled cuffed catheter will be placed and can be used immediately for dialysis while a fistula and graft are maturing. Catheters are usually placed in the neck around the area of the collar bone. Catheters have  more complications than fistulas and grafts. Sometimes, catheters must  be removed or exchanged. Some reasons for this are:

  • Infection
  • Clotting in the catheter tip
  • Exposed Cuff (the cuff that adheres the catheter to the surrounding tissue becomes exposed to the outside)
  • Damage (puncture or crack) in the catheter
  • Recirculation of blood while on dialysis 

Pre-Procedure Requirements:

Nothing by mouth for at least 6hour before the procedure.
All medications can be taken with small sips of water except any type of blood thinners/anti platlet medication. Check with you doctor and dialysis nurse to be sure it is safe for you to hold these medications.
Take ½ of the usual amount NPH Insulin
Inform your nurse and the DAG office if you are taking any type of blood thinners
You must have someone drive you home after the procedure
Bring your insurance card(s) with you  

Tunneled Cuffed Catheter Removals

Removal of the catheter will be scheduled once the fistula or graft has been successfully cannulated by the dialysis staff. The area on your neck will be injected with a numbing medication, and the physician will remove the catheter.

Note: Inform your nurse and the DAG office if you are taking any type of blood thinners 

Tunneled Cuffed Catheters Repairs

Occasionally a clamp on the catheter will break, or an area on the catheter that is damaged can be repaired in a few minutes at the Access Center.  

Other Services

Administration of IV iron and ESA's (erythropoietin stimulating agents) to CKD patients who have not yet started dialysis.

Bring your insurance card(s) with you for all services  



Quick Reference

Dialysis Access Group

Clinic 336-713-6961
Fax 336-713-6957

Robbin Simmons

Monday - Friday
8:00 am to 4:30 pm
120 Miller Street Winston Salem NC 27103
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Last Updated: 07-12-2016
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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.

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