An arteriovenous (AV) fistula is an abnormal connection between an artery and a vein. Normally, blood flows from your arteries to your capillaries to your veins. Nutrients and oxygen in your blood travel from your capillaries to tissues in your body.

With an arteriovenous fistula, blood flows directly from an artery into a vein, bypassing some capillaries. When this happens, tissues below the bypassed capillaries receive less blood supply.

Arteriovenous fistulas usually occur in the legs, but can develop anywhere in the body. Arteriovenous fistulas are often surgically created for use in dialysis in people with severe kidney disease.

A large untreated arteriovenous fistula can lead to serious complications. If you've had an arteriovenous fistula created for dialysis, your doctors will monitor you for complications.

Apr. 27, 2012