Catheters Used For Kidney Dialysis

A catheter is a flexible tube the size of a drinking straw that is inserted into a large vein. A catheter is often used with patients who need to start dialysis immediately or don’t have veins suitable for a fistula or graft. Due to risk of infection, catheters should be used only until a permanent fistula or graft can be placed or when there are no other options for a dialysis access. 

The tip of the catheter is placed in the heart. The other end (the tail) is “tunneled” under the skin and comes out of the body. Tunneled catheters are most commonly placed in the neck or chest area. 

The catheter is placed surgically by one of our Interventional Nephrologists under moderate sedation. Hemodialysis can begin immediately following catheter placement if necessary.