For some kidney dialysis patients, a synthetic tube called a dialysis graft is implanted under the skin to connect an artery to a vein, thereby allowing blood filtered during the dialysis process to run through it. If that dialysis graft narrows or becomes clotted, the blockage must be cleared. A process called dialysis access imaging is used to assess the blockage by injecting X-ray dye into the graft via a catheter and taking pictures of the graft. Next, the affected area typically is stretched with a balloon (angioplasty) and the clot is broken up and removed. The process can take between one and three hours, and sedation and pain medication may be used. In some cases a device called a stent is placed within the narrowed area to keep it open and the graft functioning. If the declot is unsuccessful, a dialysis catheter may be needed to allow patients to continue their dialysis schedule until a new access site is found.
Interventional radiology is a medical specialty that uses minimally invasive techniques to diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems, and it is an integral part of comprehensive patient care. The UAB Medicine interventional radiology team is a dedicated group of skilled, innovative health care professionals who are committed to providing the highest quality of care to our patients.
The group uses the latest and most advanced technology and imaging methods, including fluoroscopy, ultrasound, and CT scans, to treat tumors as well as peripheral arterial, venous, urologic, and hepatobiliary diseases. Each of our five dedicated angiography suites has the full range of imaging technology needed for complex procedures, along with the latest in patient monitoring and documentation systems. Because UAB Medicine is an academic health center, patients may be offered participation in clinical research trials, which can provide access to new techniques and treatments that are not available elsewhere in the area.
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