Objective: The construction of an autogenous radial-cephalic direct wrist arteriovenous fistula (RCAVF) is the primary and best option for vascular access for hemodialysis. However, 10%-24% of RCAVFs thrombose directly after operation or do not function adequately due to failure of maturation. In case of poor arterial and/or poor venous vessels for anastomosis, the outcome of RCAVFs may be worse and an alternative vascular access is probably indicated. A prosthetic graft implant may be a second best option. Therefore, a randomized multicenter study comparing RCAVF with prosthetic (polytetrafluoroethylene [PTFE]) graft implantation in patients with poor vessels was performed.
Methods: A total of 383 consecutive new patients needing primary vascular access were screened for enrollment in a prospective randomized study. According to defined vessel criteria from the preoperative duplex scanning, 140 patients were allocated to primary placement of an RCAVF and 61 patients to primary prosthetic graft implantation. The remaining 182 patients were randomized to receive either an RCAVF (n = 92) or prosthetic graft implant (n = 90). Patency rate was defined as the percentage of AVFs that functioned well after implantation.
Results: Primary and assisted primary 1-year patencies were 33% +/- 5.3% vs 44% +/- 6.2% (P = .03) and 48% +/- 5.5% vs 63% +/- 5.9% (P = .035) for the RCAVF and prosthetic AVF, respectively. Secondary patencies were 52% +/- 5.5% vs 79% +/- 5.1% (P = .0001) for the RCAVF and prosthetic AVF, respectively. Patients with RCAVFs developed a total of 102 (1.19/patient-year [py]) vs 122 (1.45/py; P = .739) complications in the prosthetic AVFs. A total of 43 (0.50/py) interventions in the RCAVF group and 79 (0.94/py) in the prosthetic graft group were needed for access salvage (P = .077).
Conclusions: Although there were more interventions needed for access salvage in the patients with prosthetic graft implants, we may conclude that patients with poor forearm vessels do benefit from implantation of a prosthetic graft for vascular access.