Timely placement of an arteriovenous (AV) vascular access (native AV fistula [AVF] or prosthetic AV graft [AVG]) is necessary to limit the use of tunneled central venous catheters (TCVC) in patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) treated with hemodialysis (HD). National guidelines recommend placement of AVF as the AV access of first choice in all patients to improve patient survival. The benefits of AVF over AVG are less certain in the older adults, as age-related biological changes independently modulate patient outcomes. This manuscript describes the rationale, study design and protocol for a randomized controlled pilot study of the feasibility and effects of AVG-first access placement in older adults with no prior AV access surgery. Fifty patients age ≥65 years, with incident ESKD on HD via TCVC or advanced kidney disease facing imminent HD initiation, and suitable upper extremity vasculature for initial placement of an AVF or AVG, will be randomly assigned to receive either an upper extremity AVG-first (intervention) or AVF-first (comparator) access. The study will establish feasibility of randomizing older adults to the two types of AV access surgery, evaluate relationships between measurements of preoperative physical function and vascular access development, compare vascular access outcomes between groups, and gather longitudinal assessments of upper extremity muscle strength, gait speed, performance of activities of daily living, and patient satisfaction with their vascular access and quality of life. Results will assist with the planning of a larger, multicenter trial assessing patient-centered outcomes.
Keywords: 240; Figures: 1; Fistula; Graft; Hemodialysis; Older patients; Tables: 4; Text: 4,526; Word count; abstract; arteriovenous access.