Effects of Arteriovenous Fistula Ligation on Cardiac Structure and Function in Kidney Transplant Recipients

Circulation. 2019 Jun 18;139(25):2809-2818. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.038505. Epub 2019 May 2.


Background: Cardiovascular morbidity and mortality remain high in recipients of a kidney transplant. The persistence of a patent arteriovenous fistula (AVF) after transplantation may contribute to ongoing maladaptive cardiovascular remodeling. The ability to reverse this maladaptive remodeling by ligation of this AVF is unknown. We conducted the first randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of AVF ligation on cardiac structure and function in stable kidney transplant recipients.

Methods: In this randomized controlled trial, kidney transplant recipients (>12 months after transplantation with stable graft function) were randomized to AVF ligation or no intervention. All participants underwent cardiac magnetic resonance imaging at baseline and at 6 months. The primary outcome was the change in left ventricular (LV) mass. Secondary outcomes included changes in LV volumes, left and right atrial areas, LV ejection fraction, NT-proBNP (N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide) levels, cardiac output/index, brachial flows (ipsilateral to AVF), and pulmonary artery velocity.

Results: A total of 93 patients were screened, of whom 64 met the inclusion criteria and were randomized to the AVF ligation (n=33) or control (n=31) group. Fifty-four participants completed the study: 27 in the AVF ligation group and 27 in the control group. On the second cardiac magnetic resonance scan, a mean decrease of 22.1 g (95% CI, 15.0-29.1) was observed in LV mass in the AVF ligation group compared with a small increase of 1.2 g (95% CI, -4.8 to 7.2) in the control group ( P<0.001). Significant decreases in LV end-diastolic volumes, LV end-systolic volumes, cardiac output, cardiac index, atrial volumes, and NT-proBNP were also seen in the AVF closure group ( P<0.01). No significant changes were observed in LV ejection fraction ( P=0.93) and pulmonary artery velocity ( P=0.07). No significant complications were noted after AVF ligation. No changes in estimated glomerular filtration rate or systolic and diastolic blood pressures were observed between cardiac magnetic resonance scans.

Conclusions: Elective ligation of patent AVF in adults with stable kidney transplant function resulted in clinically significant reduction of LV myocardial mass.

Clinical trial registration: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry URL: https://www.anzctr.org.au . Unique Identifier: ACTRN12613001302741.

Keywords: arteriovenous fistula; heart ventricles; kidney transplantation; magnetic resonance imaging.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arteriovenous Shunt, Surgical* / adverse effects
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / diagnostic imaging
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / etiology
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / surgery*
  • Kidney Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Ligation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood
  • Peptide Fragments / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function
  • Renal Dialysis* / adverse effects
  • South Australia
  • Stroke Volume
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ventricular Function, Left*
  • Ventricular Remodeling*


  • Biomarkers
  • Peptide Fragments
  • pro-brain natriuretic peptide (1-76)
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12613001302741