Recognizing that autologous arteriovenous fistula use was associated with improved outcomes in hemodialysis patients, the 1997 Dialysis Outcomes Quality Initiative (DOQI) vascular access practice guidelines from the National Kidney Foundation stressed fistulas as the optimal means of dialysis vascular access. In the United States, this emphasis has continued with the Fistula First Breakthrough Initiative. Much of the data supporting fistulas for dialysis access are derived from longitudinal cohorts, including the Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS), dialysis provider databases, and other sources. This article reviews major findings from these data sources, focusing on specific practices and characteristics associated with greater arteriovenous fistula use in dialysis facilities worldwide. Important and often overlooked characteristics that are discussed in detail include specific preferences of dialysis staff regarding access type and the emphasis placed on fistula primacy and the number of fistulas created during surgical training. For example, in the DOPPS, the risk of initial fistula failure was 34% lower when fistulas were placed by surgeons who had created at least 25 fistulas during training (P = 0.002). It is imperative that dialysis clinicians advocate actively for specific dialysis access types on behalf of individual patients. Vascular surgery teaching programs must supervise adequate numbers of fistula procedures for every trainee.
Copyright © 2010 National Kidney Foundation, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.