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Step 5: Waiting for my Access to Mature/Heal

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Lifeline for a Lifetime

Step 5: Waiting For My Access to Mature or Heal

Fistula or Graft?

Your surgeon should tell you and the dialysis care team what kind of access you have. It will be either a fistula or a graft. A fistula is made by joining your own artery to your own vein. When the surgeon places a graft, he or she will use a plastic tube to connect an artery to a vein. If you are not sure what you have, ask your care team to tell you.

If You Have a Fistula: Going Back to See the Surgeon

Most surgeons will ask you to see them about two weeks after the surgery so they can make sure your access is healing as it should.

After that, most surgeons will also ask you to come back again about six weeks after your surgery.

On this visit, they will want to make sure the fistula is growing as it should. It can take a few weeks for the fistula to grow enough to use it. The surgeon will let you know when it is ready to use.

If it is not growing as it should, you may need to have some tests. The tests might be:

  • An ultrasound test
  • A test where they put dye in your access and take x-rays

Many access problems can be fixed if they are found early.

If You Have a Graft: Going Back to See the Surgeon

Most surgeons will ask you to see them about two weeks after the surgery so they can make sure your access is healing as it should. At this visit, the surgeon will let you know when you can use your graft. A graft may be ready to use in three to four weeks.

If there is a problem with your graft, you may need to go for tests. Those tests might be:

  • An ultrasound test
  • A test where they put dye into the access and take x-rays

Many access problems can be fixed if they are found early.