Background: The aim of the study was to determine which, and to what extent, haemodynamic parameters contribute to the remodelling of the venous limb of the Brescia-Cimino haemodialysis access.
Methods: The dimensions of the radial artery and the venous limb of the haemodialysis access were measured by an echo-tracking technique. In six ESRD patients undergoing primary arteriovenous fistula (AVF) formation, vessel diameter, wall thickness, blood pressure and blood flow were measured after the operation, and at 1 and 3 months follow-up. The contralateral forearm vessels in their native position served as baseline values for comparison.
Results: The diameter of the proximal antecubital vein progressively increased over the study period without reaching significant differences (4430, 5041 and 6620 microm at weeks 1, 4 and 12 respectively), whereas the intima-media thickness remained unchanged. The venous dilatation was associated with a reduction of the mean shear stress that culminated after the operation and progressively returned to normal venous values at 3 months (24.5 vs 10.4 dyne/cm(2), P<0.043). Thus the venous limb of the AVF undergoes eccentric hypertrophy as demonstrated by the increase in wall cross-sectional area (4.42 vs 6.32 mm(2) at week 1 vs week 12, P<0.028). At the time of the operation, the blood pressure in the AVF was 151+/-14/92.4+/-11 mmHg vs 49+/-19/24.5+/-6 mmHg (means+/-SEM) for the radial artery and the venous limb of the vascular access, respectively. One year after the operation the blood pressure in the venous limb had not changed: 42+/-14/25.3+/-7 mmHg (means+/-SEM). Under these conditions, the systolo-diastolic diameter changes observed in the radial artery and the antecubital vein were within a similar range at all time points: 56+/-17 vs 90+/-26 microm (means+/-SEM) at week 12.
Conclusions: The increased circumferential stress resulting from the flow-mediated dilatation rather than the elevation of blood pressure appears to represent the main contributing factor to the eccentric hypertrophy of the venous limb of Brescia-Cimino haemodialysis access.