The kidneys are fist-sized organs that filter toxins and excess water from the blood. In addition, they help regulate blood pressure and aid in bone health. When kidneys fail, patients must undergo regular life-saving dialysis treatments to replace those important functions.
One type of dialysis, called hemodialysis, uses a vascular access port to remove blood from a vein. The blood is then cleansed and returned to the body. There are three main types of vascular access used for hemodialysis. Doctors prefer the Arteriovenous (AV) fistula—a vein that has been surgically connected to an artery. AV fistulas are strong, last a long time and can withstand repeated needle insertions.
Patients generally undergo hemodialysis three times a week for three to five hours per treatment. Two needle insertions are required as part of the process—one to carry blood to the artificial kidney and one to return the filtered blood to the body. Because repeated needle insertions weaken a vein and may cause the AV fistula to fail, they are inserted in one of the following ways to protect the site:
- Ladder strategy – needles are inserted in a different location every session and climb the length of the fistula to avoid weakening any one area with a large number of needle sticks.
- Buttonhole strategy – needles are inserted in a small number of sites and are always inserted into the same hole made by a previous needle stick.
Hemodialysis is a complex process that requires access to a vein, a dialysis machine, an artificial kidney, and a special washing solution (dialysate) to wash toxins from the blood. Recently, two dialysate products manufactured by Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMC) were recalled. The products contained misleading labeling that could lead to potentially fatal dosing errors.
If you or a loved one had a hemodialysis treatment using GranuFlo or NaturaLyte between January 1, 2008, and June 30, 2012, and suffered a serious cardiac injury during or shortly afterwards, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact a York Fresenius kidney dialysis attorney at Schmidt Kramer at (717) 888-8888 for more information.