Background: Australia historically has been recognized for its high fistula use.
Study design: Observational study using registry data.
Setting & participants: Adult patients registered in the Australia and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Association Registry on hemodialysis in Australia.
Predictor: Cohort year.
Outcomes & measurement: Hemodialysis access trends were examined from 2000 to 2005 for incident patients (within 60 days of hemodialysis therapy start), patients on hemodialysis therapy for 6 to 8 months, and prevalent hemodialysis patients. Multivariate analyses were performed to examine the relationship between access type and cohort year for each group, with adjustment for age, sex, race, body mass index, late referral, smoking status, cause of end-stage renal disease, comorbidities, and dialysis vintage.
Results: During 2000 to 2005, catheter use increased from 39% to 53% in incident patients, 10% to 22% in the 6- to 8-month groups, and 6% to 13% in prevalent patients. Fistula use decreased from 56% to 43% in incident patients and 78% to 67% in the 6- to 8-month group and remained at 73% to 75% in prevalent patients. Graft use decreased in all groups. Adjustment for factors associated with access type did not significantly change these results.
Limitations: The registry collects only the access in use at the end of the survey period; thus, it was not possible to determine whether another access had failed or was present, but not in use. The small number of incident numbers prevented separate analysis of arteriovenous fistulas and arteriovenous grafts.
Conclusion: Incident use of fistulas and grafts decreased, with an unexpected increase in both incident and prevalent catheters between 2000 and 2005. Adjustment for factors associated with access type did not significantly alter the trends. Changes in unidentified practice patterns, attitudes, or preferences are contributing to these trends. Ongoing evaluation of data and investigation into processes of care are required to increase functioning fistulas, together with reevaluation of the role of grafts in patients without a fistula.