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New product and procedure help prevent dialysis complications

Toronto, October 1, 2015

By Melissa Di Costanzo

Dr. Elisa Greco
St. Michael’s Dr. Elisa Greco is the first surgeon in Ontario to perform a hybrid vascular access procedure using a new product. Both the procedure and the product help boost a patient’s blood flow for successful dialysis. (Photo by Katie Cooper)

Before patients with kidney disease can begin hemodialysis, there needs to be a way to remove blood from the body and return it after it has been cleaned.

Ideally, a surgeon would create a fistula, connecting an artery and a vein in the arm to create one stronger channel and increase the amount of blood flowing out to the hemodialysis machine.

But many patients are not candidates for a fistula because their veins are too small or they have stenosis, or narrowing, in spots.

Some may have a graft implanted, artificially connecting the artery and vein. And now at St. Michael’s there is another option.

Dr. Elisa Greco is the first surgeon in Ontario to perform a hybrid vascular access procedure using a product that was recently approved for use in Canada: a stent attached to a tube, or graft.

The stent is inserted into a vein, which is then connected to the artery via the graft.

The stent is what makes this new product unique, as it opens the vein to boost blood flow.

The standard grafts that are used for dialysis are often complicated by vein narrowing, which leads to clotting. The new product, combined with the hybrid procedure Dr. Greco performed, helps prevent this complication.

“Patients on dialysis come into the hospital about three times per week for their treatment,” said Dr. Greco. “This is their lifeline. We want to do everything possible to prevent complications and frequent interventions for the patient.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.