A dialysis catheter is a tube that is inserted into the upper chest and placed in a large blood vessel called the superior vena cava. This catheter provides continuous access for dialysis without multiple draws.

What should I expect during my dialysis catheter placement?

We will bring you into the procedure room and connect you to equipment that monitors and records your vital signs. You will receive pain medication to make you sleepy and relaxed. We clean the upper chest area with antiseptic solution and cover with sterile drapes.

The vascular surgeon uses an ultrasound machine and fluoroscopy, or “live” X-ray, to locate the catheter position. Usually the catheter is placed into the jugular vein.

After numbing the area with local anesthetic, the surgeon makes a small incision in the lower neck to enter the vein using a needle and a small guidewire. The small guidewire passes through the jugular vein to the superior vena cava. We make a second small incision in the upper chest, just below the first incision.

A “tunnel” connects the first and second incision just under the skin. This tunnel creates space for a small catheter tube to pass through and into place.

Later, we remove the guidewire from the blood vessels. However, the outer end of the catheter remains outside of the body. This provides access for ongoing dialysis.

After confirming the catheter positioning is correct, we secure the area with sutures. We close the upper incision using dissolvable stitches or medical glue, clean and bandage. We will take you the recovery room for short-term observation before being discharged.

What should I expect during my dialysis catheter placement?

Please review general expectations for our interventional radiology procedures.

How do I prepare for my dialysis catheter placement?

Please read how to prepare for our interventional radiology procedures.

When do I get my results for my dialysis catheter placement?

The performing vascular surgeon may discuss preliminary results with you after your exam. They may have you schedule a follow-up office appointment to examine any incisions made and discuss results. This visit depends on the type of procedure performed and may vary.