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Guidelines for Activities

It will take time to regain your strength and endurance after your dialysis access surgery, but eventually your activity level should get back to normal.

Activity After Peritoneal Dialysis Access Surgery

Avoid lifting anything that weighs more than five pounds for two weeks. Five pounds is about the weight of a Yellow Pages telephone book. This is important in order to avoid strain on the area of surgery.

For the next two weeks, please do not strain when you are having a bowel movement. If you need a stool softener or laxative, please contact your doctor for advice.

For the next two weeks, you should avoid any activity that causes you to tighten your abdominal muscles (for example, heavy housework, having sex, heavy exercise routines). Easy walking is okay. Talk with your PD nurse about when you may resume more strenuous activities.

Talk with your surgeon or PD nurse about when you may return to work. This will depend on the kind of work you do.

It is okay to drive when you feel ready, after you have stopped taking prescription pain medicine.

Activity After Hemodialysis Permacath Access Surgery

Avoid lifting anything that weighs more than 10 pounds for the next three days. Ten pounds is about the weight of two Yellow Pages telephone books or a gallon of milk. Lifting may put a strain on the incision before it has had time to heal.

Please do not drive until you have stopped taking your prescription pain medication.

You may resume other activities such as work, driving, housework, and sex may be resumed after surgery whenever you feel able. Please use common sense or contact your dialysis access nurse coordinator if you have any questions.

Activity After Hemodialysis Fistula or Graft Access Surgery

Avoid lifting anything that weighs more than 10 pounds for the next three days. Ten pounds is about the weight of two Yellow Pages telephone books or a gallon of milk. Lifting may put a strain on the incision before it has had time to heal.

Please avoid heavy physical exercise or exertion for two weeks.

Please do not drive until you have stopped taking your prescription pain medication.

You may go back to routine daily activities as soon as you like - as long as they do not involve heavy lifting.

Fistula Exercises

If you have a fistula, please begin fistula exercises one week after your dialysis access surgery. Fistula exercises will help your fistula enlarge and mature. To perform fistula exercises:

  • Get a tennis ball, nerf-ball, or other soft ball you can hold comfortably in your hand.
  • Place the ball in the hand on the same side as your fistula
  • Squeeze the ball 10 to 15 times a minute for 1-2 minutes
  • Repeat this exercise 10 to 20 times each day

Important Long-term Precautions for Fistula or Graft Access

Your access site will need some long-term attention to make sure it continues to function well. Please note the following precautions, which you must follow for as long as you have this access:

  • Do not let anyone draw blood or put an IV in your access arm. Ask your doctor or nurse about how to order a bracelet that will alert healthcare providers that you have dialysis access.
  • Do not have your blood pressure taken in your access arm.
  • Do not wear a tight sleeve, a watch, or other constricting jewelry on your access arm.
  • Do not carry a handbag or briefcase on your access arm.
  • Try not to sleep on your access arm.

Contact Information

Transplant Institute
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Lowry Medical Office Building, 7th Floor
110 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02215
617-632-9700