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One of the biggest problems facing dialysis patients is maintaining vascular access. Sometimes, even when patients are very careful, the access site may clot or become infected, and require immediate attention to re-open the site.

At the Dialysis Access Center (DAC) at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, we help patients with kidney disease manage their care and keep their access sites in good condition for uninterrupted dialysis treatments.

If you experience a problem with your access site, we can schedule your ultrasound and procedure in one visit. This one-day scheduling allows you to return to your home dialysis unit quicker with a functioning access and a plan for follow-up.

Most patients are in and out within a few hours.

The DAC is located on the 4th floor of the hospital. To make an appointment, please call (716) 819-9750.

Dr. George A. Blessios is the director of the DAC.


Hemodialysis is most commonly used to treat advanced and permanent kidney failure. In hemodialysis, your blood flows a few ounces at a time through a special filter that removes wastes and extra fluids. The clean blood is then returned to your body. 

Before starting hemodialysis, a vascular access is needed; this is a site on your body from which your blood is removed and returned. 

The three basic kinds of vascular access for hemodialysis are an arteriovenous (AV) fistula, an AV graft, and a venous catheter.


  • Evaluation for the insertion of a vascular access
  • Catheter insertion/exchanges
  • Catheter removals
  • Venography - an x-ray test used to determine placement of central venous catheters or hemodialysis fistulas
  • Doppler - evaluates how well the fistula is functioning
  • HeRO shunt insertion for patients who have exausted hemodialysis access sites
  • Minimally invasive shunt placements for patients who have no appropriate vessels for fistula creation
  • Creation of arteriovenous fistulae (using your own veins for hemodialysis)
  • Insertion of arteriovenous shunts (insertion of a plastic tube under the skin for hemodialysis in patients with vein problems)

Peritoneal Dialysis

With peritoneal dialysis (PD), a soft tube called a catheter is used to fill your abdomen with dialysis solution, a cleansing liquid. Waste products and extra fluid pass from your blood into the dialysis solution that will pull wastes and extra fluid into the abdominal cavity. These wastes and fluid then leave your body when the dialysis solution is drained.


  • Catheter insertion/exchanges
  • Catheter removals
  • Revisions and repairs of nonfunctioning catheters

Blood Flow

Blood clots or blockages may interfere with your dialysis. When fistulas and grafts become clogged or narrowed, they can prevent you from undergoing dialysis.


  • Fistulagarms / Shuntograms - an x-ray test to look inside your dialysis access, whether it is a fistula or shunt. This x-ray test detects imperfections or narrowing in the access or the blood vessels leaving the access. It checks for blood clots or other blockages.
  • Ultrasound - evaluates for blockages or areas of narrowing in the graft/fistula
  • Graft declotting (thrombectomy) - minimally invasive procedure performed to improve blood flow in the fistula and grafts placed in the blood vessel
  • Angioplasty - uses mechanical devices, such as a balloon, to open fistulas and grafts and helps them remain open

More Information / Schedule an Appointment

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (716) 819-9750.

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Buffalo, NY 14203

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