Why do I have to isolate my non dominant arm if I have reduced kidney function?

If you have reduced kidney function, and are seeing a kidney specialist, you may have been asked not to let anyone draw blood from the arm you DON’t write with, or your non-dominant arm. We may also refer to this as the “holy” arm that belongs to you and to the kidney clinic only!

The reason for this is that if you have reduced kidney function now, you may someday need kidney replacement therapy with hemodialysis. Hemodialysis is a procedure where your blood is circulated through an artificial kidney and returned to your body. To do this, we need access to your blood vessels, and before you need hemodialysis, the surgeon connects an artery to a vein, which makes the vein large enough to be able to support blood flow outside the body.

Having even one intravenous blood stick or “IV” for antibiotics or fluids can damage the veins, so we need you to protect these veins.
We choose the non-dominant arm, as we wouldn’t want to do surgery on the hand you write with.

It’s okay to have finger pokes, for example for blood sugars in that arm, and it’s okay to have subcutaneous or intramuscular injections in the arm.

So, remember: If you have reduced kidney function, or stage 3, 4 or 5 kidney disease, you don’t want anyone putting needles in the veins in the arm you DON’T write with.

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