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1.  Timing of Arteriovenous Fistula Placement and Medicare Costs During Dialysis Initiation 
American journal of nephrology  2012;35(6):498-508.
Arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) appear to be clinically superior to catheters as vascular access for maintenance hemodialysis, but higher insertion costs and high disease burden and mortality obscure the issue of whether AVF placement before hemodialysis initiation represents a net cost savings. We aimed to investigate Medicare costs for patients beginning maintenance hemodialysis, as related to timing of arteriovenous fistula (AVF) placement.
Data were from Medicare claims for incident hemodialysis patients aged ≥ 67 years in 2006. The study period extended from two years before to one year after dialysis initiation. Patients identified as having AVFs were categorized by timing of placement (mature AVF at dialysis initiation, maturing AVF at initiation, post-initiation AVF placement). Because timing may be influenced by factors that also influence overall costs, the model accounted for this non-random treatment assignment. An ordered probit extension of the classic Heckman correction was employed after identifying an appropriate instrumental variable. A cohort with Medicare coverage before and after dialysis initiation was identified, and Medicare claims were used to identify comorbid conditions and treatment costs.
Principal findings are that earlier AVF placement leads to lower costs, with the potential for about $500 million in savings. Additionally, the effect of non-random treatment assignment is real and significant. In our data, the impact of AVF placement timing was understated when treatment selection was ignored.
For appropriate AVF candidates, having a mature AVF in place at the time of dialysis initiation appears to confer a cost savings.
PMCID: PMC3572833  PMID: 22584153
Hemodialysis; endogenous selection; selection bias; vascular access
2.  Association Between Prior Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters and Lack of Functioning Arteriovenous Fistulas: A Case-Control Study in Hemodialysis Patients 
Although an arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is the hemodialysis access of choice, its prevalence continues to be lower than recommended in the United States. We assessed the association between past peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs) and lack of functioning AVFs.
Study Design
Case-control study.
Participants & Setting
Prevalent hemodialysis population in 7 Mayo Clinic outpatient hemodialysis units. Cases were without functioning AVFs and controls were with functioning AVFs on January 31, 2011.
History of PICCs.
Lack of functioning AVFs.
On January 31, 2011, a total of 425 patients were receiving maintenance hemodialysis, of whom 282 were included in this study. Of these, 120 (42.5%; cases) were dialyzing through a tunneled dialysis catheter or synthetic arteriovenous graft and 162 (57.5%; controls) had a functioning AVF. PICC use was evaluated in both groups and identified in 30% of hemodialysis patients, with 54% of these placed after dialysis therapy initiation. Cases were more likely to be women (52.5% vs 33.3% in the control group; P = 0.001), with smaller mean vein (4.9 vs 5.8 mm; P < 0.001) and artery diameters (4.6 vs 4.9 mm; P = 0.01) than controls. A PICC was identified in 53 (44.2%) cases, but only 32 (19.7%) controls (P < 0.001). We found a strong and independent association between PICC use and lack of a functioning AVF (OR, 3.2; 95% CI, 1.9–5.5; P < 0.001). This association persisted after adjustment for confounders, including upper-extremity vein and artery diameters, sex, and history of central venous catheter (OR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.5–5.5; P = 0.002).
Retrospective study, participants mostly white.
PICCs are commonly placed in patients with end-stage renal disease and are a strong independent risk factor for lack of functioning AVFs.
PMCID: PMC3793252  PMID: 22704142
Chronic kidney disease; end-stage renal disease; arteriovenous fistula; hemodialysis; dialysis access
3.  Association of Initial Hemodialysis Vascular Access with Patient-Reported Health Status and Quality of Life 
Although the arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is the recommended form of vascular access for patients with ESRD, its impact on patient perception of health status, quality of life (QOL), or satisfaction is unknown.
Design, setting, participants, and measurements
This study compared patient-reported health status and QOL scores and vascular access type among a national random sample of 1563 patients at dialysis initiation and day 60 of ESRD during 1996 to 1997. Patients were stratified into five categories: AVF at first dialysis and day 60 of ESRD, arteriovenous graft (AVG) at first dialysis and day 60, central venous catheter (CVC) at first dialysis and AVF at day 60, CVC at first dialysis and AVG at day 60, and CVC at first dialysis and day 60.
Ten percent (n = 154) of patients had an AVF, 21% (n = 326) had an AVG, and 69% (n = 1083) had a CVC at dialysis initiation; those who were most likely to use an AVF were white and male. After statistical adjustment, patients with persistent AVF use reported greater physical activity and energy, better emotional and social well-being, fewer symptoms, less effect of dialysis and burden of kidney disease, and better sleep compared with patients with persistent CVC use, whereas measures such as cognitive and sexual function did not differ by access type.
Compared with persistent CVC use, early persistent AVF use is associated with the perception of improved health status and QOL among patients with ESRD. Future longitudinal studies may help to clarify further the association between QOL and vascular access.
PMCID: PMC2728772  PMID: 17699486
4.  Vascular access use and outcomes: an international perspective from the dialysis outcomes and practice patterns study 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2008;23(10):3219-3226.
Background. A well-functioning vascular access (VA) is essential to efficient dialysis therapy. Guidelines have been implemented improving care, yet access use varies widely across countries and VA complications remain a problem. This study took advantage of the unique opportunity to utilize data from the Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS) to examine international trends in VA use and trends in patient characteristics and practices associated with VA use from 1996 to 2007. DOPPS is a prospective, observational study of haemodialysis (HD) practices and patient outcomes at >300 HD units from 12 countries and has collected data thus far from >35 000 randomly selected patients.
Methods. VA data were collected for each patient at study entry (1996–2007). Practice pattern data from the facility medical director, nurse manager and VA surgeon were also analysed.
Results. Since 2005, a native arteriovenous fistula (AVF) was used by 67–91% of prevalent patients in Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and 50–59% in Belgium, Sweden and Canada. From 1996 to 2007, AVF use rose from 24% to 47% in the USA but declined in Italy, Germany and Spain. Moreover, graft use fell by 50% in the USA from 58% use in 1996 to 28% by 2007. Across three phases of data collection, patients consistently were less likely to use an AVF versus other VA types if female, of older age, having greater body mass index, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease or recurrent cellulitis/gangrene. In addition, countries with a greater prevalence of diabetes in HD patients had a significantly lower percentage of patients using an AVF. Despite poorer outcomes for central vein catheters, catheter use rose 1.5- to 3-fold among prevalent patients in many countries from 1996 to 2007, even among non-diabetic patients 18–70 years old. Furthermore, 58–73% of patients new to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) used a catheter for the initiation of HD in five countries despite 60–79% of patients having been seen by a nephrologist >4 months prior to ESRD. Patients were significantly (P < 0.05) less likely to start dialysis with a permanent VA if treated in a faciity that (1) had a longer time from referral to access surgery evaluation or from evaluation to access creation and (2) had longer time from access creation until first AVF cannulation. The median time from referral until access creation varied from 5–6 days in Italy, Japan and Germany to 40–43 days in the UK and Canada. Compared to patients using an AVF, patients with a catheter displayed significantly lower mean Kt/V levels.
Conclusions. Most countries meet the contemporary National Kidney Foundation's Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative goal for AVF use; however, there is still a wide variation in VA preference. Delays between the creation and cannulation must be improved to enhance the chances of a future permanent VA. Native arteriovenous fistula is the VA of choice ensuring dialysis adequacy and better patient outcomes. Graft is, however, a better alternative than catheter for patients where the creation of an attempted AVF failed or could not be created for different reasons.
PMCID: PMC2542410  PMID: 18511606
arteriovenous fistulae; catheter; DOPPS; haemodialysis; vascular access
5.  Vascular access today 
World Journal of Nephrology  2012;1(3):69-78.
The number of patients with chronic kidney disease requiring renal replacement therapy has increased worldwide. The most common replacement therapy is hemodialysis (HD). Vascular access (VA) has a key role for successful treatment. Despite the advances that have taken place in the field of the HD procedure, few things have changed with regards to VA in recent years. Arteriovenous fistula (AVF), polytetrafluoroethylene graft and the cuffed double lumen silicone catheter are the most common used for VA. In the long term, a number of complications may present and more than one VA is needed during the HD life. The most common complications for all of VA types are thrombosis, bleeding and infection, the most common cause of morbidity in these patients. It has been estimated that VA dysfunction is responsible for 20% of all hospitalizations. The annual cost of placing and looking after dialysis VA in the United States exceeds 1 billion dollars per year. A good functional access is also vital in order to deliver adequate HD therapy. It seems that the native AVF that Brescia and Cimino described in 1966 still remains the first choice for VA. The native forearm AVFs have the longest survival and require the fewest interventions. For this reason, the forearm AVF is the first choice, followed by the upper-arm AVF, the arteriovenous graft and the cuffed central venous catheter is the final choice. In conclusion, VA remains the most important issue for patients on HD and despite the technical improvements, a number of problems and complications have to be resolved.
PMCID: PMC3782199  PMID: 24175244
Hemodialysis; Vascular access; Arteriovenous fistula; Arteriovenous graft; Central venous catheter; Cuffed central venous catheter
6.  Care of undocumented-uninsured immigrants in a large urban dialysis unit 
BMC Nephrology  2012;13:112.
Medical, ethical and financial dilemmas may arise in treating undocumented-uninsured patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Hereby we describe the 10-year experience of treating undocumented-uninsured ESRD patients in a large public dialysis-unit.
We evaluated the medical files of all the chronic dialysis patients treated at the Tel-Aviv Medical Center between the years 2000–2010. Data for all immigrant patients without documentation and medical insurance were obtained. Clinical data were compared with an age-matched cohort of 77 insured dialysis patients.
Fifteen undocumented-uninsured patients were treated with chronic scheduled dialysis therapy for a mean length of 2.3 years and a total of 4953 hemodialysis sessions, despite lack of reimbursement. All undocumented-uninsured patients presented initially with symptoms attributed to uremia and with stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD). In comparison, in the age-matched cohort, only 6 patients (8%) were initially evaluated by a nephrologist at stage 5 CKD. Levels of hemoglobin (8.5 ± 1.7 versus 10.8 ± 1.6 g/dL; p < 0.0001) and albumin (33.8 ± 4.8 versus 37.7 ± 3.9 g/L; p < 0.001) were lower in the undocumented-uninsured dialysis patients compared with the age-matched insured patients at initiation of hemodialysis therapy. These significant changes were persistent throughout the treatment period. Hemodialysis was performed in all the undocumented-uninsured patients via tunneled cuffed catheters (TCC) without higher rates of TCC-associated infections. The rate of skipped hemodialysis sessions was similar in the undocumented-uninsured and age-matched insured cohorts.
Undocumented-uninsured dialysis patients presented initially in the advanced stages of CKD with lower levels of hemoglobin and worse nutritional status in comparison with age-matched insured patients. The type of vascular access for hemodialysis was less than optimal with regards to current guidelines. There is a need for the national and international nephrology communities to establish a policy concerning the treatment of undocumented-uninsured patients with CKD.
PMCID: PMC3615959  PMID: 22992409
Dialysis; ESRD; Undocumented; Uninsured; Immigrants
7.  Patterns of Use of Vascular Catheters for Hemodialysis in Children in the United States 
Arteriovenous fistulas and grafts (AVF/AVG) have been associated with improved clinical outcomes in children and adults with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) on maintenance hemodialysis (HD), but the use of vascular catheters is high. Identifying the reasons for the high prevalence of vascular catheters in children on HD is necessary to assess whether targeted interventions may increase the prevalence of AVF/AVG’s.
Study Design
Retrospective cohort study.
Setting & Participants
Children younger than 18 years on HD in the 2001–2003 ESRD Clinical Performance Measures (CPM) Projects followed in the United States Renal Data System transplant files through December 31, 2004.
Vascular access type and reasons for use of a vascular catheter.
Outcomes & Measurements
Demographic/clinical characteristics, including the reason provided for use of a vascular catheter, and the association of type of vascular access and: {1}patient size, and {2} time to kidney transplantation.
Of 1,284 prevalent pediatric CPM patients examined, 529 (41%) had an AVF/AVG and 755 (59%) had a vascular catheter. Among the 755 children with a catheter, “small body size” was a commonly listed reason (N=142); 49% of these children weighed 20 kilograms or more. Among the 53 patients with catheters described as having an “AVF/AVG maturing” and present in the consecutive ESRD CPM project year, 64% had a functioning AVF/AVG the following year. For those with “transplant scheduled” listed as a reason for a vascular catheter (N=83), 69% were transplanted within 1 year and the median time to transplant was 115 days. Among all children with vascular catheters (N=755), 32.2% were transplanted within 1 year, and the median time to transplant was 264 days, compared to 21.7% and 347 days, respectively, for those with AVF/AVG’s (N=529). Among the 445 incident children in this cohort, 89% had a vascular catheter at dialysis initiation.
Because of study design, only associations can be described.
Vascular catheter use among children on HD is high. This is partially explained by expeditious transplantation and technical barriers to AVF/AVG placement in small children, however only one third of patients with a vascular catheter were transplanted within 1 year. Interventions to decrease vascular catheter use in this population may be necessary.
PMCID: PMC2630524  PMID: 18950912
Pediatric; end-stage renal disease; hemodialysis; vascular access; vascular catheter; transplantation
8.  Arteriovenous fistulas as vascular access for hemodialysis: The preliminary experience at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Jamaica 
The demand for vascular hemodialysis access creation is steadily increasing. To satisfy the demand, a vascular access team was established at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Jamaica. The outcomes of this practice are reported.
A retrospective study of all patients who had permanent vascular dialysis access established at the University Hospital of the West Indies between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2006, was performed. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 12.0 (SPSS Inc, USA).
A direct anastomosis between an autogenous artery and vein was considered an arteriovenous fistula (AVF). When prosthetic material was used, the access was considered to be an arteriovenous graft. Accesses that were nonfunctional after six weeks of maturation were considered to be primary failures, while those that failed after previous successful dialysis were considered to be secondary failures. Primary patency was defined as the interval between access placement and the first intervention for failure. Secondary patency was the interval between access placement and abandonment. Cumulative patency was defined as the number of accesses that remained patent over a given time period, regardless of the number of interventions performed.
Of 41 patients, nine were excluded due to incomplete data. Final analyses were performed on 32 patients with a mean (± SD) age of 42.3±15.3 years (range 18 to 66 years, median 43 years). The access type was an AVF in 100% of cases, which included distal radiocephalic fistulas in 27 patients, brachial-cephalic fistulas in three patients and proximal radiocephalic fistulas in two patients. Operations were performed in four (12.5%) incident and 28 (87.5%) prevalent dialysis patients. The mean delay between initiation of dialysis and AVF creation was 21.2±26.1 months (range one to 94 months, median 10 months).
There were eight (25%) primary failures. Of the remaining 24 patients, there were seven (29.2%) secondary failures from thrombosis. There was primary patency for a mean of 723.9±422.1 days (range 199 to 1314 days, median 678 days). Only one (4.2%) patient had thrombectomy to prolong AVF function, resulting in secondary patency for 439 days. Cumulative patency was 62.5%, 33.3%, 25% and 4.2% for one, two, three and four years, respectively.
The rate of AVF creation for end-stage renal disease patients in this setting far exceeds the target goals set forward by the National Kidney Foundation published updated Dialysis Outcomes Quality Initiative (NKF/DOQI) Guidelines and the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services Fistula First initiative. This is being achieved with acceptable rates of morbidity and patency. There is room for improvement in postoperative surveillance to increase early detection of failing accesses and allow for increased utility of interventions for assisted patency.
PMCID: PMC2726567  PMID: 22477473
Arteriovenous fistula; Hemodialysis; Stage V kidney disease; Vascular access
9.  An integrated review of "unplanned" dialysis initiation: reframing the terminology to "suboptimal" initiation 
BMC Nephrology  2009;10:22.
Ideally, care prior to the initiation of dialysis should increase the likelihood that patients start electively outside of the hospital setting with a mature arteriovenous fistula (AVF) or peritoneal dialysis (PD) catheter. However, unplanned dialysis continues to occur in patients both known and unknown to nephrology services, and in both late and early referrals. The objective of this article is to review the clinical and socioeconomic outcomes of unplanned dialysis initiation. The secondary objective is to explore the potential cost implications of reducing the rate of unplanned first dialysis in Canada.
MEDLINE and EMBASE from inception to 2008 were used to identify studies examining the clinical, economic or quality of life (QoL) outcomes in patients with an unplanned versus planned first dialysis. Data were described in a qualitative manner.
Eight European studies (5,805 patients) were reviewed. Duration of hospitalization and mortality was higher for the unplanned versus planned population. Patients undergoing a first unplanned dialysis had significantly worse laboratory parameters and QoL. Rates of unplanned dialysis ranged from 24-49%. The total annual burden to the Canadian healthcare system of unplanned dialysis in 2005 was estimated at $33 million in direct hospital costs alone. Reducing the rate of unplanned dialysis by one-half yielded savings ranging from $13.3 to $16.1 million.
The clinical and socioeconomic impact of unplanned dialysis is significant. To more consistently characterize the unplanned population, the term suboptimal initiation is proposed to include dialysis initiation in hospital and/or with a central venous catheter and/or with a patient not starting on their chronic modality of choice. Further research and implementation of initiatives to reduce the rate of suboptimal initiation of dialysis in Canada are needed.
PMCID: PMC2735745  PMID: 19674452
10.  Synthetic vascular hemodialysis access vs native arteriovenous fistula: A cost-utility analysis 
Annals of surgery  2012;255(1):181-186.
To determine the cost-effectiveness of two different vascular access strategies among incident dialysis patients.
Summary Background Data
Vascular access is a principal cause of morbidity and cost in hemodialysis patients. Recent guidelines and initiatives are intended to increase the proportion of patients with a fistula. However, there is growing awareness of the high prevalence of fistula failures and attendant complications.
A decision analysis using a Markov model was implemented to compare two different vascular access strategies among incident dialysis patients: a) placing an arteriovenous fistula (AVF1st) as the initial access followed by a synthetic vascular access if the AVF did not mature compared to b) placing a synthetic vascular access (SVA1st) as the initial access device. The cost-utility was evaluated across a range of the risk of complications from temporary catheters and SVA.
Under base case assumptions, the AVF1st strategy yielded 2.19 QALYs compared to 2.06 QALYs from the SVA1st strategy. The incremental cost-effectiveness was $9389/QALY for AVF1st compared to SVA1st and was less than $50,000 per QALY as long as the probability of maturation is 36% or greater. AVF1st was the dominant strategy when the AVF maturation rate was 69% or greater.
The high risk of complications of temporary catheters and the overall low AVF maturation rate explain why a universal policy of AVF 1st for all incident dialysis patients may not optimize clinical outcomes. Strong consideration should be given to a more patient-centered approach taking into account the likelihood of AVF maturation.
PMCID: PMC3243807  PMID: 21918428
11.  ESRD patients using permanent vascular access report greater physical activity compared with catheter users 
Low levels of physical activity among end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients are associated with increased risk of hospitalization and mortality, and contributors to low activity levels are important to identify. Among hemodialysis (HD) patients, use of a central venous catheter (CVC) might impede physical activity due to factors such as infection or patient fear of catheter dislodgement.
This Comprehensive Dialysis Study surveyed patients who had recently started regular dialysis. Physical activity level was ascertained using responses to the Human Activity Profile (HAP) provided by 1,458 HD participants. We examined the association of vascular access type with patients’ scores on HAP subscales measuring self-care and leg effort, two dimensions that are especially important for daily living.
32.6% of patients used an arteriovenous fistula (AVF), 11.5% used an arteriovenous graft, 51.8% used a CVC, and 4.1% used a CVC with another maturing access. Patients’ self-care and leg effort scores differed by vascular access type and receipt of early nephrology care, and the mean self-care score of AVF users who received early care was similar to the mean score reported for healthy adults.
Reported levels of self-care and leg effort activity were higher among incident HD patients using an AVF compared to those using a CVC. Future research should examine whether reinforcing the importance of regular physical activity in the pre-dialysis period, as well as wider early use of AVF in the HD population, may improve physical activity levels among ESRD patients.
PMCID: PMC3467352  PMID: 22350837
Dialysis vascular access; Physical function
12.  Achieving the Goal of the Fistula First Breakthrough Initiative for Prevalent Maintenance Hemodialysis Patients 
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) established a national goal of 66% arterio-venous fistula (AVF) use among prevalent hemodialysis (HD) patients for the current Fistula First Breakthrough Initiative (FFBI). The feasibility of achieving the goal has been debated. We examined contemporary patterns of AVF use among prevalent patients to assess the potential for attaining the goal by dialysis facilities and their associated end-stage renal disease (ESRD) Networks in the United States (US).
Study Design
Observational study.
Setting and Participants
US dialysis facilities with a mean HD patient census of 10 or more over the 40 month study period, January 2007 to April 2010.
Outcomes and Measurements
Mean changes in facility-level AVF use and the percent of facilities achieving the 66% prevalent AVF goal within the US and each Network.
US mean prevalent AVF use within dialysis facilities increased from 45.3% to 55.5% (P < 0.001) in the US but varied substantially across regions. The percent of facilities achieving the 66% AVF use goal increased from 6.4% to 19.0% (P < 0. 001). Over the 40 months, 35.9% of facilities achieved the CMS goal at least one month. On average, these facilities sustained mean (SD) use of 66% or greater for 12.9 (11.7) months. Casemix and other facility characteristics explained 20% of the variation in the proportion of facility patients using an AVF in the last measured month, leaving substantial unexplained variability.
This analysis is limited by the absence of facilities’ case-mix data over time and the national scope of the initiative precludes use of a comparison group.
Achieving the CMS goal of 66% prevalent AVF use is feasible for individual dialysis facilities. There is a need to reduce regional variation before the CMS goal can be fully realized for US hemodialysis facilities.
PMCID: PMC3014851  PMID: 21122960
Arterio-venous fistula; end-stage renal disease; hemodialysis
13.  Predictors of Delayed Transition From Central Venous Catheter Use to Permanent Vascular Access Among ESRD Patients 
Early arteriovenous fistula (AVF) creation is necessary to curb the use of central venous catheters (CVCs) and reduce their complications. We sought to examine patient characteristics that may influence persistent CVC use 90 days after dialysis therapy initiation among patients using a CVC.
Data from the 1999 to 2003 Clinical Performance Measures Project was linked to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Medical Evidence (2728) form.
Most patients (59.4%) starting dialysis with a CVC failed to transition to permanent access within 90 days, whereas 25.4% received a graft and only 15.2% received an AVF. Older patients (>75 years) were more than 2-fold more likely to remain CVC dependent at 90 days (P = 0.0.001) compared with those younger than 50 years. In addition, race and sex were highly predictive of CVC dependence at 90 days; black females, white females, and black males were 75% (P < 0.001), 61% (P < 0.001), and 35% (P = 0.023) more likely than white males to maintain CVC use, whereas patients with ischemic heart disease and peripheral vascular disease were 35% (P = 0.023) and 39% (P = 0.007) more likely to remain CVC dependent at 90 days, respectively.
Prolonged CVC dependence is more likely to occur among patients of older age, females, blacks, and those with cardiovascular comorbidity, suggesting inadequate or late access referral or greater primary access failure. Our findings suggest possible missed opportunities for early conversion of patients to permanent vascular access that may vary by race and sex.
PMCID: PMC2929666  PMID: 17261430
Hemodialysis vascular access
14.  Elbow fistulas using autogeneous vein: patency rates and results of revision 
Postgraduate Medical Journal  2002;78(922):483-486.
Background: The provision and maintenance of vascular access remains a major cost to end stage renal failure programmes. There are few reports regarding the surgical revision of the failing native elbow arteriovenous fistula (AVF).
Patients and methods: A retrospective case note review was performed on all patients identified from the hospital vascular access database as having undergone construction of an autogeneous vein elbow AVF. Over a seven year period 282 autogeneous vein AVFs were fashioned in 232 patients using the brachial artery as the in-flow conduit. Of these 208 were brachiocephalic fistulas, or a variant thereof, and 74 were fashioned using the transposed autologous basilic vein (136 male: 96 female; median age 60 years, range 14–94 years).
Results: Of 282 elbow fistulas 197 were successfully used for dialysis (70%). Cumulative primary patency of elbow fistulas using autogeneous vein in this series was 68%, 54%, and 44% at one, two, and three years respectively. A further 34 revision procedures were performed on 28 fistulas to maintain fistula function, and cumulative secondary patency after surgical revision was 75%, 60%, and 46% at one, two, and three years. Overall 21 out of 34 procedures (62%) successfully restored fistula function and cumulative primary patency of the revised fistulas was 56% at one year. Eighteen AVFs (brachiocephalic, n=12; autologous basilar vein, n=6) required revision for access dysfunction secondary to a short stenoses within 4 cm of the arteriovenous anastomoses. Of these 18 AVFs eight were revised by excision of the stenosed segment and either primary anastomoses of the two cut ends of arterialised vein or reanastomoses of the proximal venous limb proximally on the brachial artery. In another nine fistulas the excised segment was replaced with a short interposition graft (polytetrafluoroethylene, n=7; native basilic vein, n=1; bovine carotid artery, n=1). One fistula with postanastomotic stenoses and a more proximal needle site stenoses was revised using two vein patches. Overall 100% were patent at 24 hours, 13 provided successful dialysis (72%), and cumulative primary patency was 67% and 50% at six months and one year respectively.
Conclusions: Successful surgical revision of failing native elbow fistulas can restore patency and improve cumulative secondary patency with potential benefits in terms of patient morbidity and mortality. These results compare favourably to published patency rates after fistula salvage using interventional radiological techniques.
PMCID: PMC1742455  PMID: 12185224
15.  Duration of temporary catheter use for hemodialysis: an observational, prospective evaluation of renal units in Brazil 
BMC Nephrology  2011;12:63.
For chronic hemodialysis, the ideal permanent vascular access is the arteriovenous fistula (AVF). Temporary catheters should be reserved for acute dialysis needs. The AVF is associated with lower infection rates, better clinical results, and a higher quality of life and survival when compared to temporary catheters. In Brazil, the proportion of patients with temporary catheters for more than 3 months from the beginning of therapy is used as an evaluation of the quality of renal units. The aim of this study is to evaluate factors associated with the time between the beginning of hemodialysis with temporary catheters and the placement of the first arteriovenous fistula in Brazil.
This is an observational, prospective non-concurrent study using national administrative registries of all patients financed by the public health system who began renal replacement therapy (RRT) between 2000 and 2004 in Brazil. Incident patients were eligible who had hemodialysis for the first time. Patients were excluded who: had hemodialysis reportedly started after the date of death (inconsistent database); were younger than 18 years old; had HIV; had no record of the first dialysis unit; and were dialyzed in units with less than twenty patients. To evaluate individual and renal unit factors associated with the event of interest, the frailty model was used (N = 55,589).
Among the 23,824 patients (42.9%) who underwent fistula placement in the period of the study, 18.2% maintained the temporary catheter for more than three months until the fistula creation. The analysis identified five statistically significant factors associated with longer time until first fistula: higher age (Hazard-risk - HR 0.99, 95% CI 0.99-1.00); having hypertension and cardiovascular diseases (HR 0.94, 95% CI 0.9-0.98) as the cause of chronic renal disease; residing in capitals cities (HR 0.92, 95% CI 0.9-0.95) and certain regions in Brazil - South (HR 0.83, 95% CI 0.8-0.87), Midwest (HR 0.88, 95% CI 0.83-0.94), Northeast (HR 0.91, 95% CI 0.88-0.94), or North (HR 0.88, 95% CI 0.83-0.94) and the type of renal unit (public or private).
Monitoring the provision of arteriovenous fistulas in renal units could improve the care given to patients with end stage renal disease.
PMCID: PMC3227575  PMID: 22093280
16.  Arteriovenous Fistula Use Is Associated with Lower Cardiovascular Mortality Compared with Catheter Use among ESRD Patients 
Seminars in dialysis  2008;21(5):483-489.
The arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is the recommended form of dialysis vascular access, however, limited studies suggest that AVF creation may result in increased cardiovascular stress and remodeling. To explore the contribution of vascular access type to cardiovascular-related (CV) mortality, we analyzed USRDS Clinical Performance Measures data comprising 4854 patients that initiated dialysis between October 1, 1999–December 31, 2004. CV mortality included death from acute myocardial infarction, atherosclerotic heart disease, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, cardiac arrest or stroke. Risk of cardiovascular mortality during a 4-year observation was analyzed by Cox-regression methods with adjustments for demographic and co-morbid conditions. AVF use was strongly associated with lower all-cause and CV mortality. After adjustment for covariates, AVF use 90 days after dialysis initiation remained significantly associated with lower cardiovascular mortality [hazard ratio (HR) 0.69, p = 0.0004] compared with catheter use. These findings suggest that vascular access type influences cause-specific mortality beyond that of infection, and support existing guidelines recommending the use of an AVF early in the course of chronic end-stage renal disease therapy.
PMCID: PMC2692608  PMID: 18764794
17.  Access surgery for hemodialysis in the Cayman Islands: Preliminary results of a vascular access service 
In the Cayman Islands, a vascular access service was created in 2005 to facilitate the creation of vascular access for hemodialysis by local surgeons. The present retrospective audit aims to establish the outcomes of this practice in the Cayman Islands.
Data from the operative log of the Cayman Islands Hospital was collected over a period of 36 months. The data were analyzed using SPSS version 12.0 (SPSS Inc, USA). Statistical analyses were performed using Student’s t tests and Fisher’s exact tests.
A total of 19 operative procedures were performed to create vascular accesses in 12 men and seven women. Thirteen procedures (68%) created autogenous arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) and six (32%) involved the insertion of a prosthetic arteriovenous graft (AVG). There were six incident dialysis patients, all of whom had an AVF created. The remaining 13 prevalent dialysis patients had new accesses in the form of AVFs (n=7) or AVGs (n=6).
The statistical analyses were limited by sample size, but with AVFs, there were trends toward reduced incidence of secondary failure (four of 13 versus four of six), thrombosis (four of 13 versus two of six), infectious morbidity (zero versus two of six) and less demand for interventions to maintain patency (one of 13 versus two of six) with AVFs. There were also trends toward superior primary (461 days versus 227 days) and secondary (803 days versus 205 days) patency rates for AVFs.
In this setting, the rate of AVF creation exceeds the goals set by the National Kidney Foundation Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative and the Fistula First Breakthrough Initiative. To ensure continued delivery of modern quality care, further audits of the local practice will be required at regular intervals.
PMCID: PMC2780858  PMID: 22477497
Arteriovenous fistula; Arteriovenous graft; Hemodialysis; Vascular access
18.  Catheter-Related Mortality among ESRD Patients 
Seminars in dialysis  2008;21(6):547-549.
Hemodialysis access-related complications remain one of the most important sources of morbidity and cost among persons with end-stage renal disease, with total annual costs exceeding $1 billion annually. In this context, the creation and maintenance of an effective hemodialysis vascular access is essential for safe and adequate hemodialysis therapy. Multiple reports have documented the type of vascular access used for dialysis and associated risk of infection and mortality. Undoubtedly, the central venous catheter (CVC) is associated with the greatest risk of infection-related and all-cause mortality compared with the autogenous arteriovenous fistula (AVF) or synthetic graft (AVG). The AVF has the lowest risk of infection, longer patency rates, greater quality of life, and lower all-cause mortality compared with the AVG or CVC. It is for these reasons that the National Kidney Foundation’s Kidney Disease Outcome Quality Initiative Clinical Practice Guidelines for Vascular Access recommend the early placement and use of the AVF among at least 50% of incident hemodialysis patients. This report presents catheter-related mortality and calls for heightened awareness of catheter-related complications.
PMCID: PMC2921710  PMID: 19000119
19.  The impact of patient preference on dialysis modality and hemodialysis vascular access 
BMC Nephrology  2014;15:38.
Home-based dialysis, including peritoneal dialysis (PD) and home hemodialysis (HHD), is associated with improved health related quality of life and reduced health resource costs. It is uncertain to what extent initial preferences for dialysis modality influence the first dialysis therapy actually utilized. We examined the relationship between initial dialysis modality choice and first dialysis therapy used.
Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) from a single centre who started dialysis after receiving modality education were included in this study. Multivariable logistic regression models were constructed to assess the independent association of patient characteristics and initial dialysis modality choice with actual dialysis therapy used and starting hemodialysis (HD) with a central venous catheter (CVC).
Of 299 eligible patients, 175 (58.5%) initially chose a home-based therapy and 102 (58.3%) of these patients’ first actual dialysis was a home-based therapy. Of the 89 patients that initially chose facility-based HD, 84 (94.4%) first actual dialysis was facility-based HD. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) for first actual dialysis as a home-based therapy was 29.0 for patients intending to perform PD (95% confidence interval [CI] 10.7-78.8; p < 0.001) and 12.4 for patients intending to perform HHD (95% CI 3.29-46.6; p < 0.001). Amongst patients whose first actual dialysis was HD, an initial choice of PD or not choosing a modality was associated with an increased risk of starting dialysis with a CVC (adjusted OR 3.73, 95% CI 1.51-9.21; p = 0.004 and 4.58, 95% CI 1.53-13.7; p = 0.007, respectively).
Although initially choosing a home-based therapy substantially increases the probability of the first actual dialysis being home-based, many patients who initially prefer a home-based therapy start with facility-based HD. Programs that continually re-evaluate patient preferences and reinforce the values of home based therapies that led to the initial preference may improve home-based therapy uptake and improve preparedness for starting HD.
PMCID: PMC3943442  PMID: 24558955
Peritoneal dialysis; Home hemodialysis; Central venous catheter; Predialysis education
20.  A High Red Blood Cell Distribution Width Predicts Failure of Arteriovenous Fistula 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36482.
In hemodialysis patients, a native arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is the preferred form of permanent vascular access. Despite recent improvements, vascular access dysfunction remains an important cause of morbidity in these patients. In this prospective observational cohort study, we evaluated potential risk factors for native AVF dysfunction. We included 68 patients with chronic renal disease stage 5 eligible for AVF construction at the Department of General and Vascular Surgery, Central Clinical Hospital Ministry of Internal Affairs, Warsaw, Poland. Patient characteristics and biochemical parameters associated with increased risk for AVF failure were identified using Cox proportional hazards models. Vessel biopsies were analyzed for inflammatory cells and potential associations with biochemical parameters. In multivariable analysis, independent predictors of AVF dysfunction were the number of white blood cells (hazard ratio [HR] 1.67; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.24 to 2.25; p<0.001), monocyte number (HR 0.02; 95% CI 0.00 to 0.21; p = 0.001), and red blood cell distribution width (RDW) (HR 1.44; 95% CI 1.17 to 1.78; p<0.001). RDW was the only significant factor in receiver operating characteristic curve analysis (area under the curve 0.644; CI 0.51 to 0.76; p = 0.046). RDW>16.2% was associated with a significantly reduced AVF patency frequency 24 months after surgery. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed CD45-positive cells in the artery/vein of 39% of patients and CD68-positive cells in 37%. Patients with CD68-positive cells in the vessels had significantly higher white blood cell count. We conclude that RDW, a readily available laboratory value, is a novel prognostic marker for AVF failure. Further studies are warranted to establish the mechanistic link between high RDW and AVF failure.
PMCID: PMC3344886  PMID: 22574168
21.  High rate of fistula placement in a cohort of dialysis patients in a single payer system 
Arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) are considered superior to arteriovenous grafts and catheters. Never-theless, AVF prevalence in the United States remains under the established target. The complication rates and financial cost of vascular access continue to rise and disproportionately contribute to the burgeoning health care costs. The relationship between financial incentives for a type of vascular access and rate of access placement is unclear. All chronic hemodialysis patients (n=99) receiving care at Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center as of August 1, 2008 were participants. Demographic characteristics, vascular access type, and nonrelative value unit compensation were assessed as predictors, and the vascular access prevalence rate, operative times, and frequency of access interventions were analyzed. A 73.7% AVF rate was achieved in this cohort of patients with 51.5% diabetes mellitus. The number of access procedures per patient per year remained constant over time. The Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, a single payer system, achieved superior AVF prevalence and exceeded the national AVF target. Financial incentives for arteriovenous graft placement currently exist in the United States, as there is similar Medicare reimbursement for arterio-venous graft and basilic vein transposition, despite longer operative times for basilic vein transpositions. The high AVF prevalence at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center may be due to the VA nonrelative value unit-driven system that allows for interdisciplinary care, priority of AVFs, and frequent use of basilic vein transposition surgery, when appropriate. We have identified an important, hypothesis-generating example of a nonrelative value unit-based approach to vascular access yielding superior results with respect to patient care and cost.
PMCID: PMC3082920  PMID: 20812959
Fistula; hemodialysis; health care economics
22.  Using continuous renal replacement therapy to manage patients of shock and acute renal failure 
The incidence of acute renal failure (ARF) in the hospital setting is increasing. It portends excessive morbidity and mortality and a considerable burden on hospital resources. Extracorporeal therapies show promise in the management of patients with shock and ARF. It is said that the potential of such therapy goes beyond just providing renal support. The aim of our study was to analyze the clinical setting and outcomes of critically ill ARF patients managed with continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT).
Patients and Methods:
Ours was a retrospective study of 50 patients treated between January 2004 and November 2005. These 50 patients were in clinical shock and had concomitant ARF. All of these patients underwent CVVHDF (continuous veno-venous hemodiafiltration) in the intensive care unit. For the purpose of this study, shock was defined as systolic BP < 100 mm Hg in spite of administration of one or more inotropic agents. SOFA (Sequential Organ Failure Assessment) score before initiation of dialysis support was recorded in all cases. CVVHDF was performed using the Diapact® (Braun) CRRT machine. The vascular access used was as follows: femoral in 32, internal jugular in 8, arteriovenous fistula (AVF) in 4, and subclavian in 6 patients. We used 0.9% or 0.45% (half-normal) saline as a prefilter replacement, with addition of 10% calcium gluconate, magnesium sulphate, sodium bicarbonate, and potassium chloride in separate units, while maintaining careful monitoring of electrolytes. Anticoagulation of the extracorporeal circuit was achieved with systemic heparin in 26 patients; frequent saline flushes were used in the other 24 patients.
Of the 50 patients studied, 29 were males and 21 females (1.4:1). The average age was 52.88 years (range: 20–75 years). Causes of ARF included sepsis in 24 (48%), hemodynamically mediated renal failure (HMRF) in 18 (36%), and acute over chronic kidney disease in 8 (16%) patients. The overall mortality was 74%. The average SOFA score was 14.31. The variables influencing mortality on multivariate analysis were: age [odds ratio (OR):1.65; 95% CI: 1.35 to 1.92; P = 0.04], serum creatinine (OR:1.68; 95% CI: 1.44 to 1.86; P = 0.03), and serum bicarbonate (OR: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.55 to 0.94; P = 0.01). On univariate analysis the SOFA score was found to be a useful predictor of mortality.
Despite advances in treating critically ill patients with newer extracorporeal therapies, mortality is dismally high. Multiorgan dysfunction adversely affects outcome of CRRT. Older age, level of azotemia, and severity of metabolic acidosis are important predictors of adverse outcome.
PMCID: PMC2700581  PMID: 19561951
Acute renal failure; continuous renal replacement therapy; shock; sepsis
23.  Epidemiologic trends in chronic renal replacement therapy over forty years: A Swiss dialysis experience 
BMC Nephrology  2012;13:52.
Long term longitudinal data are scarce on epidemiological characteristics and patient outcomes in patients on maintenance dialysis, especially in Switzerland. We examined changes in epidemiology of patients undergoing renal replacement therapy by either hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis over four decades.
Single center retrospective study including all patients which initiated dialysis treatment for ESRD between 1970 and 2008. Analyses were performed for subgroups according to dialysis vintage, based on stratification into quartiles of date of first treatment. A multivariate model predicting death and survival time, using time-dependent Cox regression, was developed.
964 patients were investigated. Incident mean age progressively increased from 48 ± 14 to 64 ± 15 years from 1st to 4th quartile (p < 0.001), with a concomitant decrease in 3- and 5-year survival from 72.2 to 67.7%, and 64.1 to 54.8%, respectively. Nevertheless, live span continuously increased from 57 ± 13 to 74 ± 11 years (p < 0.001). Patients transplanted at least once were significantly younger at dialysis initiation, with significantly better survival, however, shortened live span vs. individuals remaining on dialysis. Among age at time of initiating dialysis therapy, sex, dialysis modality and transplant status, only transplant status is a significant independent covariate predicting death (HR: 0.10 for transplanted vs. non-transplanted patients, p = 0.001). Dialysis vintage was associated with better survival during the second vs. the first quartile (p = 0.026).
We document an increase of a predominantly elderly incident and prevalent dialysis population, with progressively shortened survival after initiation of renal replacement over four decades, and, nevertheless, a prolonged lifespan. Analysis of the data is limited by lack of information on comorbidity in the study population.
Survival in patients on renal replacement therapy seems to be affected not only by medical and technical advances in dialysis therapy, but may mostly reflect progressively lower mortality of individuals with cardiovascular and metabolic complications, as well as a policy of accepting older and polymorbid patients for dialysis in more recent times. This is relevant to make demographic predictions in face of the ESRD epidemic nephrologists and policy makers are facing in industrialized countries.
PMCID: PMC3464796  PMID: 22747751
Dialysis; Epidemiology; Outcome; Time trends
24.  Influence of Vascular Access Type on Sex and Ethnicity-Related Mortality in Hemodialysis-Dependent Patients 
The Permanente Journal  2012;16(2):4-9.
Objectives: To determine whether sex- and ethnicity-based mortality differences in patients dependent on hemodialysis (hemodialysis patients) are because of prevalence of vascular access type.
Methods: Southern California Permanente Medical Group Renal Database, which contained 5821 chronic hemodialysis patients between 2000 and 2008, was studied.
Results: Mean age of the patients was 62 years, and 59% were male. Of the population, 33% were white; 32%, Hispanic; 23%, African American; 9%, Asian/Pacific Islander; and 3%, other race or ethnicity. Predominant access type over the course of the study was arteriovenous fistula (AVF) in 73%, arteriovenous graft (AVG) in 12%, and tunneled catheter in 14%. There was a higher percentage of AVF in whites (71%) than in African Americans (63%). Risk of death was independently increased by age (hazard ratio [HR], 1.04; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04–1.05), male sex (HR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.22–1.45), diabetes (HR, 1.22; 95% CI, 1.12–1.33), use of an AVG (HR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.34–1.71) or a tunneled catheter (HR, 6.45; 95% CI, 5.78–7.20). Compared with whites, African-American race decreased the risk of death (HR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.56–0.70), as did Asian/Pacific Islander (HR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.49–0.69), Hispanic (HR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.51–0.65), and other race (HR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.52–0.86).
Conclusion: Age, sex, race or ethnicity, access type, and diabetes are independent risk factors for mortality in hemodialysis patients. After controlling for potential confounders, when compared with whites, minorities all demonstrate significantly decreased risk of mortality. African Americans had reduced mortality risk despite a lower prevalence of arteriovenous fistula compared with whites. Male sex increased mortality. Differences in mortality between sexes and ethnicities in this population cannot be accounted for by differences in type of dialysis access.
PMCID: PMC3383160  PMID: 22745609
25.  Vascular access for hemodialysis: current perspectives 
A well-functioning vascular access (VA) is a mainstay to perform an efficient hemodialysis (HD) procedure. There are three main types of access: native arteriovenous fistula (AVF), arteriovenous graft, and central venous catheter (CVC). AVF, described by Brescia and Cimino, remains the first choice for chronic HD. It is the best access for longevity and has the lowest association with morbidity and mortality, and for this reason AVF use is strongly recommended by guidelines from different countries. Once autogenous options have been exhausted, prosthetic fistulae become the second option of maintenance HD access alternatives. CVCs have become an important adjunct in maintaining patients on HD. The preferable locations for insertion are the internal jugular and femoral veins. The subclavian vein is considered the third choice because of the high risk of thrombosis. Complications associated with CVC insertion range from 5% to 19%. Since an increasing number of patients have implanted pacemakers and defibrillators, usually inserted via the subclavian vein and superior vena cava into the right heart, a careful assessment of risk and benefits should be taken. Infection is responsible for the removal of about 30%–60% of HD CVCs, and hospitalization rates are higher among patients with CVCs than among AVF ones. Proper VA maintenance requires integration of different professionals to create a VA team. This team should include a nephrologist, radiologist, vascular surgeon, infectious disease consultant, and members of the dialysis staff. They should provide their experience in order to give the best options to uremic patients and the best care for their VA.
PMCID: PMC4099194  PMID: 25045278
arteriovenous fistula; prosthetic grafts; central venous catheter; infection

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