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Vascular Access And Dialysis

Alate Health -  - Interventional Radiology Clinic

Alate Health

Interventional Radiology Clinic located in Houston, TX

Vascular Access and Dialysis Q & A

What is Vascular Access?

Sometimes patients are in need of frequent access to their blood vessels for delivery of medications (such as chemotherapy or long-term antibiotics) or withdrawal of blood (like during dialysis).  This is often achieved by placing long-term flexible tubes directly into the blood vessels.  Examples of vascular access include:

  • PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) – Catheter placed in the arm (usually for long-term antibiotics).
  • Hickman catheter – Catheter placed in the neck/upper chest area
  • Hemodialysis catheter – A larger catheter usually placed in the neck/upper chest area for dialysis
  • Port-a-cath – Catheter with a hub placed in the chest area. The catheter and hub are placed under the skin and can remain there for years.

Dialysis and Fistulas

When patients’ kidneys are no longer working, a dialysis machine helps perform the function of the kidneys.  The dialysis machine needs to access points to remove and return the blood.  This is typically done through a fistula, a connection between an artery and vein, usually created in the arm.  With time, fistulas can develop narrowings which affect the blood flow through the fistula and ultimately the dialysis machines.  If the blood flow is too slow, the fistula can develop blood clots making the fistula unusable.

Alate Health performs several procedures that help create and maintain fistulas so that patients can receive dialysis.  These include:

  • Minimally invasive, non-surgical fistula creation – creating a connection between the artery and vein through a small incision that can be covered by a Band-Aid.
  • Fistulograms – images of the fistula that help determine if there are any narrowings causing poor flow
  • Angioplasty and stent placement – Opening up the narrowing in the fistula with the placement of a stent to hold it open if necessary
  • Fistula Declotting – Removal of the clot to allow blood flow to return to the fistula.

For those patients who are starting off with peritoneal dialysis, Alate Health is also able to insert peritoneal dialysis catheters minimally invasively in our office-based lab under conscious sedation.

Referring Patients

Alate Health understands the importance and urgency of having vascular access and starting and maintaining dialysis.  We are able to accommodate patients quickly and want to make referrals as easy as possible.  To refer a patient, click on the link below: