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Vascular Access Complications in Hemodialysis Patients

Hemodialysis can be a life-saving option for patients whose kidneys are no longer functioning effectively. The healthcare professionals who support and care for patients through this treatment are true everyday heroes.

That role isn’t without challenges, though. Dialysis care teams are often overloaded, making it difficult to ensure a smooth and successful hemodialysis experience for patients. Managing vascular access complications is just one priority on a long list of responsibilities.

Here are some of the most common causes of vascular access complications and how dialysis clinics can best support staff in addressing these issues.

Common Vascular Access Complications


Infections at the patient’s vascular access site can cause serious repercussions, like sepsis, if not immediately caught and addressed. Carefully monitoring and maintaining catheters, in addition to keeping the site clean, can help prevent infection.


Stenosis (the narrowing of a blood vessel) can occur at the inflow, body, or outflow of the AVF/AVG, making it difficult to perform dialysis and potentially requiring intervention to restore blood flow. Careful monitoring can help detect access dysfunction prior to stenosis. Significant stenosis can lead to low flow within the AVF/AVG and result in thrombosis.

Supporting Hemodialysis Staff

Under the constant pressure and responsibility of patient care, it can be easy to let self-care and coworker-care take second priority. Here are a few ways to support your staff (and yourself) as you care for patients and address any complications that arise, from fostering a positive work environment to providing the right training and tools.

Providing educational opportunities and training can help set dialysis staff up for success. So can keeping support staff up to date on the latest cannulation techniques, pre- and post-cannulation care best practices, patient education and kidney care guidelines through in-house training or with outside organizations. Likewise, mentorship opportunities can help new employees learn from more experienced staff.

Finally, the right tools can help healthcare staff provide the best possible care for their patients.

Transonic’s HD03 Hemodialysis Monitor provides on-the-spot vascular access assessments by measuring delivered flow compared to the pump speed, recirculation and access flow. The HD03 can alert nurses, technicians, nephrologists and other team members to the onset of possible access dysfunction so they can intervene early.  

And that benefits everyone: the dialysis care team, the clinic and, most importantly, the patient.

Interested in learning more? Download the Vascular Access Coordinator’s Handbook.