Natural history of arteriovenous grafts in hemodialysis patients

Am J Kidney Dis. 2000 Jul;36(1):68-74. doi: 10.1053/ajkd.2000.8269.


Most hemodialysis patients in the United States have an arteriovenous graft as their vascular access. Grafts have a relatively short life span and are prone to recurrent stenosis and thrombosis, requiring multiple salvage procedures to maintain their patency. There is little information in the literature regarding the clinical factors that determine graft survival and complications. We evaluated prospectively the outcomes of 256 grafts placed at a single institution during a 2-year period. A salvage procedure to maintain graft patency (thrombectomy, angioplasty, or surgical revision) was required in 29% of the grafts at 3 months, 52% at 6 months, 77% at 12 months, and 96% at 24 months. Thus, primary graft survival (time from graft placement to the first intervention) was only 23% at 1 year and 4% at 2 years. Primary graft survival was significantly less among patients with hypoalbuminemia compared with patients with a normal serum albumin level (P = 0.003). Secondary graft survival (time from graft placement to permanent graft failure) was 65% at 1 year and 51% at 2 years. Neither primary nor secondary graft survival was significantly correlated with patient age, sex, diabetic status, body mass index, or graft site. A mean of 1.22 interventions per graft-year were required to maintain access patency, including 0.51 thrombectomies, 0.54 angioplasties, and 0.17 surgical revisions. In conclusion, hypoalbuminemia is a strong predictor of the requirement for an early graft intervention. Patients with hypoalbuminemia may require a heightened index of suspicion in monitoring their grafts for evidence of stenosis.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angioplasty, Balloon
  • Arteriovenous Shunt, Surgical*
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis*
  • Female
  • Graft Occlusion, Vascular / blood
  • Graft Occlusion, Vascular / etiology
  • Graft Occlusion, Vascular / therapy
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Reoperation
  • Risk Factors
  • Serum Albumin / analysis
  • Thrombectomy


  • Serum Albumin