Hypothesis: Radiocephalic fistulas for maintenance hemodialysis access are not feasible in all patients with end-stage renal disease. Our aim was to review our experience with 3 types of upper arm arteriovenous fistula (AVF) to ascertain whether they are reasonable alternatives to radiocephalic fistulas and which, if any, have superior performance.
Patients and methods: Patient medical records were retrospectively reviewed. The main outcomes were maturation rate, time to maturation, assisted maturation rate, complication rates, reintervention rates, primary and assisted primary patency rates, and effects of comorbidities.
Results: Eighty-six patients with end-stage renal disease underwent creation of a brachiocephalic, brachiobasilic, or brachial artery-to-median antecubital vein AVF. Overall, 80% matured, with 23% requiring an intervention to achieve maturity. The mean time to maturation was 3.8 months; 47% had a complication (inability to access, thrombosis, and so on), and 43% required additional interventions. The overall primary patency and assisted primary patency rates at 12 months were 50% and 74%, respectively. Brachiobasilic AVFs not superficialized immediately often needed a second operation. There were no significant differences in patency rates among the 3 AVF types. The AVFs in patients with diabetes took 2 months longer to mature than did those in patients without diabetes.
Conclusions: An upper arm AVF is a reasonable alternative for maintenance hemodialysis access when a radiocephalic AVF is not possible. There are 3 valid options from which to choose to best accommodate each patient's antecubital anatomy. Diabetes may adversely affect outcomes. Our data suggest that brachiobasilic AVFs should be superficialized at the initial procedure, if feasible.