Introduction: The native arteriovenous fistula may remain immature despite adequate arterial inflow after formation. This may occur when the puncturable vein segment (cannulation zone) is too small to be reliably punctured, occluded or too deep under the skin for needle access. We performed stenting (stent-assisted maturation) of arteriovenous fistulas with an immature cannulation zone, allowing for a large subcutaneous channel which could then be immediately punctured for dialysis.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of 49 patients (mean age was 58.7 ± 16.09 (12-83) years, mean arteriovenous fistula age of 162.6 ± 27.28 days) with end-stage renal failure who underwent balloon dilatation and bare-metal stent implantation (1.6 ± 0.67 (1-3) stents, median diameter and length of 8 (5-14) mm and 80 (40-150) mm, respectively) through their cannulation zone (forced maturation). Radiocephalic (35 arteriovenous fistulas), brachiocephalic (10 arteriovenous fistulas) and autogenous loop arteriovenous fistulas (4 arteriovenous fistulas) were included with 30 patients (61.2%) having an inadequate cannulation zone venous diameter, 9 patients (18.4%) having an absent cannulation zone and 10 patients (20.4%) having a patent cannulation zone deeper than 1 cm which was not reliably puncturable. The study was conducted over 9 years (January 2008-December 2016) with implantation of the SMART® stent and Absolute Pro® stent in 61.2% and 38.8%, respectively. Long-term outcomes including primary useable segmental and access circuit patency as well as assisted primary access circuit patency, rate of re-intervention, technical success and complications were analysed.
Results: At 6 months, 12 months and 4 years, respectively, cannulation zone primary patency was 84.4%, 74.4% and 56.1% and access circuit primary patency was 62.2%, 45.3% and 23.2%; however, assisted primary access circuit patency was 95.6%, 91.1% and 83.8%, achieved with an endovascular re-intervention rate of 0.53 procedures/year with only four thrombosed circuits occurring.
Discussion: Forced maturation using nitinol stents allows for long-term haemodialysis access with a low rate of re-intervention.
Keywords: Arteriovenous fistula; Doppler evaluation; biomaterials; dialysis; dialysis access; interventional radiology; techniques and procedures; ultrasonography.
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