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Dialysis Access Planning or Surveillance Evaluation

Patients who need dialysis commonly have a graft or fistula surgically placed in either arm or leg that provides access for kidney dialysis. This access allows large amounts of blood to be removed and returned three times per week so that the dialysis machine (artificial kidney) can remove harmful substances from the blood. During the mapping evaluation done for your surgeon, the technologist will pass a risk-free, painless non-invasive ultrasound transducer (probe or wand) along the limb in which the graft or fistula is planned to evaluate the quality of the blood flow and the size of the veins in the limb. For access surveillance, a similar exam is performed on an existing graft or fistula looking for narrowed areas that may cause the access to work poorly or fail completely. Learn more here.


  • Pre-op planning exam for AV fistula/graft
  • AV fistula/graft routine surveillance
  • AV fistula/graft surveillance for problems including:
    • Difficulty with needle placement
    • Increased dialysis time
    • Pain, swelling, or discoloration of the limb or digits (fingers/toes)
    • Loss of pulse in the graft
    • Palpable mass in the graft or limb
    • Abnormal lab values
    • Increased venous pressure during dialysis

Patient Preparation

Wear loose clothing or clothing easily removed to provide access to your entire arm (hand to shoulder) for planning and surveillance exams. Try to be well hydrated for the planning exam. For surveillance exams, a non-dialysis day is mandatory.