What is a Dialysis Graft? | MedStar Health

Small tubing used to connect an artery and a vein

Dialysis uses an external machine to clean and filter your blood when you have significant kidney disease. The dialysis machine is connected to your blood vessels using an access such as a fistula or graft.

A graft is created by connecting a vein to an artery using tubing. Grafts are not used as often for dialysis access as fistula because they don’t last as long and tend to have higher rates of infection. But they may be a good choice if your own blood vessels aren’t strong enough to create a fistula access.

The surgeons in our Vascular and Endovascular Program work with kidney specialists to determine the most effective type of dialysis access for your unique situation.

What to expect

Your doctor may ask that you not eat or drink before your procedure. Ask if you should stop taking any medications before your surgery. You will receive a local anesthetic. You may receive a sedative to relax you, but you likely will remain awake during the procedure.

Your doctor will make a small incision in your arm. The graft will be placed to connect an artery and vein. The incision will then be closed and covered with a bandage. You will be taken to a recovery area to be monitored for several hours.

You will likely be able to return home after the procedure, but you will need someone to drive you. You will need to monitor for infection and keep the area clean. The graft can be used for dialysis two to six weeks after placement. Some grafts can be used immediately.



A fluoroscopy is an imaging technique that uses a continuous X-ray beam passed through the body to create real-time, moving images of your internal structures.

Our locations

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MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital

5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9000 Franklin Square Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar St Mary's Hospital

25500 Point Lookout Rd.
Leonardtown, MD 20650

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735

Ask MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Have general questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net. If you have clinically-specific questions, please contact your physician’s office.