Introduction:: Delays in arteriovenous fistula maturation can cause care delays and increased costs. Increased distention pressure and intermittent wall shear stress may dilate veins based on prior research. Early use of non-invasive devices may help assist clinical arteriovenous fistula dilation.
Methods:: This was an Institutional Review Board approved study. After arteriovenous fistula creation, a novel, intermittent pneumatic compression device (Fist Assist®) was applied 15 cm proximal to arteriovenous fistula enabling 60 mmHg of cyclic compression for 6 h daily for 30 days. Among the patients who completed 1 month follow-up, 30 (n = 30) arteriovenous fistula patients were in the study arm to test vein dilation with Fist Assist. Controls (n = 16) used a sham device. Vein size was measured and recorded at baseline and after 30 days by duplex measurement. Clinical results (percentage increase) were recorded and tested for significance.
Results:: No patients experienced thrombosis or adverse effects. Patient compliance and satisfaction was high. After 1 month, the mean percentage increase in vein diameter in the Fist Assist treatment group was significantly larger (p = 0.026) than controls in the first 5 mm segment of the fistula after the anastomosis. All fistulas treated with Fist Assist are still functional with no reported thrombosis or extravasations.
Conclusions:: Early application of an intermittent pneumatic compression device may assist in arteriovenous fistula dilation and are safe. Non-invasive devices like Fist Assist may have clinical utility to help fistulae development and decrease costs as they may eventually assist maturation.
Keywords: Dialysis; arteriovenous fistula; intermittent pneumatic compression device.