Background: The growth of patients > or =65 years on hemodialysis is increasing. Guidelines recommend arteriovenous fistula (AVF) access but their outcomes in elderly patients are controversial. This study compared the outcomes of AVF in patients <65 years old (65- group) versus those > or =65 years old (65+ group).
Methods: This retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data included 444 incident, first-time AVF created in a large dialysis center between January 1, 1995 and July 1, 2003. The primary outcome of AVF cumulative patency was evaluated using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis with log-rank test comparison. A Cox model determined factors associated with AVF loss.
Results: One hundred ninety-six patients (44%) were in the 65+ group. In total, there were 230 (52.2%) radiocephalic, 186 (42.2%) brachiocephalic, and 25 (5.6%) basilic vein transposed AVF. The one-year AVF cumulative survival was 75.1% (65+ group) and 79.7% (65- group); the five-year survival was 64.7% (65+ group) and 71.4% (65- group). The overall total procedure, angioplasty, thrombolysis, and revision rates per access-year were 0.83, 0.30, 0.66, and 0.16, respectively. The 65+ group had a relative risk of 1.7 of their AVF failing to mature compared with the 65- group. Multivariate analysis yielded these variables significant for AVF loss: male sex HR 0.63 (95% CI 0.44-0.91), coronary artery disease HR 2.1 (95% CI 1.5-3.0), and Caucasian ethnicity HR 0.63 (95% CI 0.44-0.91).
Conclusion: Age should not be a limiting factor when determining candidacy for AVF creation due to equivalent survival and procedural rates. Failure of fistula maturation is a primary concern to patients of all ages and demands further study.