Autologous access is the best vascular access for dialysis also in older patients and it should be mature when patient needs hemodialysis. It is not always possible. Surgeon availability and demographic characteristics of patients (age, diabetes, vascular disease...) are factors that determine primary vascular access.
Aim: To analyse outcome and vascular access complications in elderly who start hemodialysis without vascular access.
Patients and methods: All patients older than 75 years who initiated hemodialysis without vascular access between January 2000 and June 2002 were included, They were divided en two groups depending on primary vascular access. GI: arterio-venous fistulae. GIIl: Tunnelled cuffed catheter. Epidemiological and analytical data, vascular access complications related, as well as patient and first permanent vascular access survival from their inclusion in dialysis up to December 2002 were analysed and compared in both groups.
Results: 32 patients were studied. GI: n = 17 (4 men) and GIIl: n =1 5 (8 men), age: 79.9 +/- 3.8 and 81.7 +/- 4 years respectively (ns). There were no differences in sex and comorbidity (diabetes, ischemic heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and hypertension). It took GI 3 months to get a permanent vascular access suitable for using, while it took GIIl 1.3 months (p < 0.005) The number of temporary untunnelled catheters was higher in GI (3.35 vs 1.87 p < 0.05). Vascular access complications: 70.6% of infections occur in GI (incidence (I) = 48 infections/100 patients-year) while only 29.4% were detected in GII (I = 25 infections/100 patients-year). 70% of central venous thrombosis happen in GI (I: 25 CVT/100 patients-year) vs 30% in GIIl (I = 14.4/100 patients-year) (ns). No significant differences neither in bleeding (66.7% vs 33.3%) nor ischemia (75% vs 25%) were found. Dialysis dose (Kt/V) as well as anaemia degree were similar in both groups. Permanent vascular access survival after 2 years was 45.8% in GI and 24% in GII (ns). Patient survival was similar in GI and GII (72% vs 51% ns).
Conclusions: Elderly who start hemodialysis without vascular access took longer to get a suitable permanent vascular access when arterio-venous fistulae is placed than with a tunnelled cuffed hemodialysis catheter. As a consequence, vascular access complications are larger, infection ones are the most common. In these patients a tunnelled catheter should be inserted at the time a peripheral arterio-venous access is created, in order to avoid temporary untunnelled catheters.