Many arteriovenous (AV) fistulae fail to achieve an adequate blood flow or size for successful cannulation because of accessory veins. We describe a simple technique to ligate accessory veins that does not require a surgical incision. In this retrospective study, 17 end-stage renal disease patients underwent ligation of accessory veins of poorly developed AV fistulae. There were 14 men and 3 women, and their average age was 50 +/- 13 years. There were 14 radiocephalic and 3 brachiocephalic fistulae. After identifying accessory veins with a fistulogram, two nonabsorbable 2-0 polypropylene (Prolene) sutures were placed percutaneously around each accessory vein in proximity to the AV fistula. Successful ligation was confirmed with a repeat fistulogram. This procedure was undertaken after 4 +/- 3 months following surgical placement. Successful maturation was defined as adequate blood flow to support effective hemodialysis and adequate caliber to allow for repeated cannulation with a 15G or 16G needle. Of 17 AV fistulae, 15 (88%) successfully matured 1.7 +/- 1 month (range, 0.3 to 6 months) after the procedure. The average number of accessory veins ligated was 1.7 +/- 0.8 (range, 1 to 3). All AV fistulae that matured after ligation of accessory veins were functioning at 44.5 +/- 12 weeks after first use. A technique for salvaging nonmaturing AV fistulae not requiring surgical cutdown for ligation of accessory veins is described. AV fistulae mature quickly after ligation of accessory veins. This is a rapid and safe procedure that can increase the prevalence of AV fistulae.
Copyright 2002 by the National Kidney Foundation, Inc.