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Treatment / Tunneled Dialysis Catheter Placement

Tunneled Dialysis Catheter Placement

Hemodialysis is a treatment used when your kidneys fail and can no longer clean your blood and remove extra fluid from your body. A hemodialysis access or vascular access is a way to reach your blood for hemodialysis.

Am I a Candidate for a Tunneled Dialysis Catheter?

You need dialysis when you develop end stage kidney failure, typically when you lose about 85 to 95% of your kidney function.

When your kidneys fail, dialysis keeps your body in balance by doing the following:

  • Removing waste, salt and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body
  • Keeping a safe level of certain chemicals in your body, such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonate
  • Helping to control blood pressure

In some cases of acute kidney failure, dialysis may only be needed for a short time until the kidney function improves. However, if you are in chronic or end stage kidney failure, your kidneys do not get better and you will need dialysis for the rest of your life. If your doctor says you are a candidate, you may choose to be placed on a waiting list for a kidney transplant.

What to Expect from the Procedure

When you come in for your dialysis catheter, you will either have local anesthesia with sedation, or general anesthesia – whatever you and your vascular and interventional radiologist (VIR) have discussed prior to the procedure. Using image guidance, ultrasound and x-ray, the doctor will locate the vein that is being used.

A small incision will be made in the lower neck so the physician can enter the jugular vein in the neck with a needle and pass a small wire into the vein. Next, a second incision will be made in the chest below the first incision. The dialysis catheter is then passed from the second incision, through the tunnel, to the first incision site, where it is passed over the wire and into place.

Correct placement positioning will be confirmed with x-rays, and the catheter will be secured with stitches. Some catheters have a cuff that sits in the tunnel under the skin. This cuff helps keep the tube secure and free of infection.


Placement of a dialysis catheter typically takes an hour is performed as an outpatient procedure. There will be slight discomfort over the area for a few days which can be managed effectively with medications. You should limit strenuous physical activities for the first few weeks afterwards.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call IVC at 503-612-0498. You can also read our brochure on Kidneys and Dialysis.

* This information about Tunneled Dialysis Catheter Placement was reviewed by Dr. Jason R. Bauer. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using the form below.

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We are announcing that Interventional and Vascular Consultants will be closing as of March 10, 2023.

We would like to thank you for the trust you have given us over the years, participating in your healthcare needs has been a privilege.

To assist in a smooth transition to a new provider, you may access your records from your MyHealth account or request a copy of medical records by clicking the link below and completing the Release of Information form.

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Please know that we have greatly valued our relationship with you and wish you the best.


Jason Bauer, MD RVT
Michael Pfister, MD RVT

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