Background/aim of study: End-stage renal failure (ESRF) patients requiring long-term haemodialysis need a durable vascular access. The arterio-venous fistula (AVF) with its long patency rate and low complication profile is usually the first choice procedure for vascular access creation. However when superficial veins are not suitable for AVF creation or have all been exhausted as a result of repeated AVF procedures, arterio-venous grafts (AVG) using polytetraflouroethylene (PTFE) to bridge arteries and veins is an alternative for provision of continued vascular access for haemodialysis. This study is a review of our experience in using PTFE AVGs for vascular access in patients requiring chronic haemodialysis.
Methods and materials: A retrospective review was done on 92 grafts in 77 patients placed by 3 vascular access surgeons at the Singapore General Hospital from January 1989 to December 1994.
Results: There were 58 female and 19 male patients with a median age of 43 years (range 15-76 years). Twelve patients (16%) were diabetic and 6 patients (8%) had systemic lupus erythematosis requiring long-term steroids. Seventy-three percent of patients had up to 2 previous AVF creations before placement of AVG over the forearm (64%), upper arm (23%) or thigh (6.5%). Complications include graft infection (19), pseudoaneurysm formation (10), graft thrombosis (24), steal syndrome (1), venous congestion (1) and venous end stenosis (1). Diabetic status and long-term steroid therapy did not significantly increase the incidence of graft infection. The patency rates at 24 months and 36 months were 77% and 58% respectively. However serviceability rates were 61% at 2 years and 38% at 3 years mainly due to infective complications.
Conclusion: PTFE AVGs offer reasonable patency and serviceability rates as a vascular access modality but in view of their complication profile, the native vein arteriovenous fistula should continue to be the first choice procedure for vascular access in patients requiring chronic haemodialysis.