Dialysis Catheter Removal

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This procedure is done to remove a dialysis catheter (a long hollow tube) when a patient no longer needs dialysis. It is also performed if there is a problem with the catheter due to infection or other complications requiring removal.

Need to Know

Nice to Know
  • Do not eat or drink anything at least eight hours before the procedure
  • If you take blood thinners, talk to your doctor beforehand about adjusting or stopping this medication
  • Do not take aspirin or other pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen, for five days before the procedure
  • If you have diabetes, ask your primary care doctor about adjusting your insulin dose
  • Tell your technologist about any allergies, especially to local or general anesthetics and contrast materials (“x-ray dye”)
  • Inform your technologist if you are pregnant
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
  • You’ll be given a gown to wear during your treatment
  • You’ll be awake during the procedure and most-likely can go home after


How Does It Work?

Using image-guided technology, a physician will make a small incision and remove the catheter from the vein.

What Happens — Before, During, and After?

When you arrive for your procedure a nurse will greet you and let the team know you’ve arrived. You will be brought into an exam room and asked to change into a gown. Your doctor will greet you, explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have.

You will lie on an exam table for the procedure. After cleaning the area of the skin, your physician will numb the area with a local anesthetic. You will feel a tiny pinch from the anesthesia.

Once the area is numb, your physician will make a small incision and remove the catheter from the vein. You may feel the catheter coming out but it will not hurt. Once the catheter and port are removed the physician will stitch the area and cover it with a bandage. This procedure usually takes about 15 minutes.

Once you are ready you will be sent home. You will need to keep the area clean and protected from water until the wound is fully healed. Your doctor will give you more detailed instructions about keeping the area clean. You will be able to resume your regular activities.

You may experience some redness or swelling in the area which can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain medication. Please discuss this with your physician.

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How Should I Prepare?

There are things you can do to make your experience more comfortable, and many of these will depend on your individual preferences. For example, you may want to arrange to have someone drop you off and pick you up. You might like to keep a list of questions or — as you’re doing now — educate yourself about the procedure.

Some other things to keep in mind in planning for this procedure include:

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing to the procedure.
  • Your doctor may ask you to stop taking aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), or blood thinners (such as Coumadin or warfarin) for a time before the procedure.
  • The day before the procedure (or the Friday before, if you’re scheduled for a Monday procedure), a nurse from your doctor’s office will call you. The nurse will give you any additional instructions, and will ask if you have any questions.
  • When you arrive, make sure the nurse and radiologist know about any allergies you may have, especially allergies to local anesthetics, such as lidocaine. If there’s any chance you may be pregnant, tell your physician
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What Should I Bring?

On the day of your procedure you should:

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Avoid bringing jewelry or valuables
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What Are the Benefits and Risks?

The benefit of a dialysis catheter placement is that necessary, lifesaving dialysis treatment will be possible.

Risks you should be aware of include:

  • As with any procedure that involves a catheter placed inside a blood vessel there is potential for damage to the blood vessel, bruising or bleeding at the puncture site, and infection.
  • Some patients may have a temporarily disturbed heart rhythm. This is usually corrected by adjusting the catheter position.
  • There is the potential that the catheter is accidentally placed in an artery and will need to be removed. In rare cases surgical repair to the artery is necessary.
  • There is the potential for pneumothorax (air in the chest causing a lung to collapse). Although rare this is a serious complication. This risk is dramatically reduced with the use of image-guidance in the placement of the catheter, as is the case at Jefferson Radiology

There are also potential risks or hazards for patients with a catheter placed in their veins for any extended period of time. These include risks for infection, leakage of fluid from broken catheters, obstruction of the catheter, heart arrhythmias and problems caused by air in the catheter. Your physician will give you more detailed information about each of these risks and what you should do if any of these complications should occur.

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