doctor - Patient Teaching Tools Looking After Your Central Dialysis Catheter

The doctor has inserted a dialysis catheter in to your chest or groin / leg so that the dialysis nurses can perform Hemodialysis treatments. The main risk with the dialysis catheter is possible infection. The dialysis catheter can sometimes stop working without any warning. Sometimes this problem can be fixed with a medication called tPA, which is inserted in to the catheter by a doctor or a dialysis nurse. Sometimes the medication does not work and the doctor may have to insert a new catheter.

Here are some general guidelines how to look after your dialysis catheter:



  • Remove the dressing from the catheter site.
  • Pull or tug on the catheter.
  • Wet the catheter site.
  • Take a bath, swim, or go to sauna/steam room with dialysis catheter.


  • Inform the dialysis unit if you have pain or redness at the catheter site.
  • Inform the dialysis unit if you have a temperature over 38 degrees centigrade.
  • Keep the catheter and its dressing clean and dry.

If you accidentally remove catheter:

  • Lie down and apply pressure with a clean towel over the insertion site.
  • After bleeding stops (it will take at least 15 minutes to stop bleeding) go to dialysis unit in working hours or nearest hospital.

If you accidentally cut the catheter:

  • Tie the remaining tail of the catheter to stop any bleeding and to prevent air getting in to your blood stream.
  • Go immediately to the nearest hospital emergency room for help.

If your catheter site dressing gets wet:

  • Wash your hands well with soap and water.
  • Remove the wet dressing to allow the catheter site to dry.
  • Apply a new clean dressing as shown by the dialysis nurse.