Background: The rope-ladder puncture technique, with cannulation along the whole length of the vessel traject, has been very common in haemodialysis patients with autogenous arterio-venous fistula (AVF). Today's dialysis population with AVF may exhibit difficult cannulation, because of a short vein length or a complicated cannulation route. An alternative needling possibility is the buttonhole (BH) technique, which inserts needles at exactly the same location during every dialysis session. The present study was conducted to investigate the effect of both cannulation techniques on the incidence of vascular access (VA) complications.
Methods: A total of 75 prevalent haemodialysis patients with autogenous AVF using the BH technique were compared with 70 patients using the rope-ladder technique. The following parameters were registered: haematoma occurrence, redness, swelling, aneurysm formation, the use of sharp or dull needles, miscannulations, and interventions. Needling pain and fear of puncture were assessed using a verbal rating scale (VRS). The duration of the follow-up was 9 months.
Results: Patients in the BH group had more unsuccessful cannulations, compared with the rope-ladder method (P < 0.0001), but the frequency of haematoma (P < 0.0001) and aneurysm formation (P < 0.0001) was less. In addition, intervention such as angioplasty (P < 0.0001) was higher in patients using the rope-ladder technique. A negative outcome of the BH technique was the higher incidence of access infections compared to the rope-ladder method.
Conclusion: This study showed that the BH method is a valuable technique with few complications like haematoma, aneurysm formation and the need for interventions. However, the infections induced by the BH method should not be underestimated. This underlines the importance of an aseptic and correct technique of the buttonhole procedure.