If you think you may have an arteriovenous fistula, make an appointment with your family doctor. If an arteriovenous fistula is found early, your treatment may be easier and more effective. Eventually, however, you may be referred to a vascular or heart specialist (cardiologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet. Since tests for an arteriovenous fistula usually include an ultrasound, it's possible you'll need to fast for several hours before your appointment.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to arteriovenous fistula.
- Write down key personal information, including previous piercing injuries or a family history of arteriovenous fistula or other blood vessel diseases.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to recall all of the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. For arteriovenous fistula, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests will I need?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- What's an appropriate level of physical activity?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Should I see a specialist?
- Should my children or other blood-related relatives be screened for this condition?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
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- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Mohler ER. Acquired arteriovenous fistulas of the lower extremity. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Feb. 17, 2012.
- Vascular access for hemodialysis. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/vascularaccess/. Accessed Feb. 17, 2012.
- Arteriovenous fistula. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular_disorders/peripheral_venous_disorders/arteriovenous_fistula.html#v941577. Accessed Feb. 17, 2012.
- Doherty GM, ed. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Surgery. 13th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=5310644. Accessed Feb. 17, 2012.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=9105122. Accessed Feb. 17, 2012.
- Catheter embolization. Radiological Society of North America. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=cathembol. Accessed Feb. 28, 2012.
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