UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Vascular

Title: Bleeding Dialysis Fistulas

Posted: 2/15/2010 by Rob Rogers, MD (Updated: 4/13/2024)
Click here to contact Rob Rogers, MD

Bleeding Dialysis Fistula?

Ever see a patient in the ED c/o "my fistula won't stop bleeding"? If you haven't, you probably will in the future.

Here are some helpful tips on getting these bad boys to stop oozing:

  • Local pressure for 10 minutes will stop many of these bleeders
  • Can also try locally applied gel foam/thrombin
  • Pharmacologic adjuncts may be required, especially if the patient has missed dialysis-DDAVP can be given (makes platelets stickier by causing endothelial cells to release von Willibrand Factor). You can also give platelets, since platelets don't work well in a uremic state. Many dialysis patients are on coumadin because of chronic line clots, so don't forget to reverse this if present
  • Probably as a last resort you can tie a superficial circular suture at the puncture site. This works quite well.