Barriers to timely arteriovenous fistula creation: a study of providers and patients

Am J Kidney Dis. 2011 Jun;57(6):873-82. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2010.12.020. Epub 2011 Mar 15.


Background: Current clinical practice guidelines recommend a native arteriovenous fistula (AVF) as the vascular access of first choice. Despite this, most patients in western countries start hemodialysis therapy using a catheter. Little is known regarding specific physician and system characteristics that may be responsible for delays in permanent access creation.

Study design: Multicenter cohort study using mixed methods; qualitative and quantitative analysis.

Setting & participants: 9 nephrology centers in Australia and New Zealand, including 319 adult incident hemodialysis patients.

Predictor: Identification of barriers and enablers to AVF placement.

Outcomes: Type of vascular access used at the start of hemodialysis therapy.

Measurements: Prospective data collection included data concerning predialysis education, interviews of center staff, referral times, and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) at AVF creation and dialysis therapy start.

Results: 319 patients started hemodialysis therapy during the 6-month period, 39% with an AVF and 59% with a catheter. Perceived barriers to access creation included lack of formal policies for patient referral, long wait times for surgical review and access placement, and lack of a patient database for management purposes. eGFR thresholds at referral for and creation of vascular accesses were considerably lower than appreciated (in both cases, median eGFR of 7 mL/min/1.73 m(2)), with median wait times for access creation of only 3.7 weeks. First assessment by a nephrologist less than 12 months before dialysis therapy start was an independent predictor of catheter use (OR, 8.71; P < 0.001). Characteristics of the best performing centers included the presence of a formalized predialysis pathway with a centralized patient database and low nephrologist and surgeon to patient ratios.

Limitations: A limited number of patient-based barriers was assessed. Cross-sectional data only.

Conclusions: A formalized predialysis pathway including patient education and eGFR thresholds for access placement is associated with improved permanent vascular access placement.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arteriovenous Shunt, Surgical*
  • Australia
  • Catheters, Indwelling
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Prospective Studies
  • Renal Dialysis / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult