International Comparisons of Native Arteriovenous Fistula Patency and Time to Becoming Catheter-Free: Findings From the Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS)

Am J Kidney Dis. 2021 Feb;77(2):245-254. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2020.06.020. Epub 2020 Sep 21.


Rationale & objective: Optimizing vascular access use is crucial for long-term hemodialysis patient care. Because vascular access use varies internationally, we examined international differences in arteriovenous fistula (AVF) patency and time to becoming catheter-free for patients receiving a new AVF.

Study design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting & participants: 2,191 AVFs newly created in 2,040 hemodialysis patients in 2009 to 2015 at 466 randomly selected facilities in the Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS) from the United States, Japan, and EUR/ANZ (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand).

Predictors: Demographics, comorbid conditions, dialysis vintage, body mass index, AVF location, and country/region.

Outcomes: Primary/cumulative AVF patency (from creation), primary/cumulative functional patency (from first use), catheter dependence duration, and mortality.

Analytical approach: Outcomes estimated using Cox regression.

Results: Across regions, mean patient age ranged from 61 to 66 years, with male preponderance ranging from 55% to 66%, median dialysis vintage of 0.3 to 3.2 years, with 84%, 54%, and 32% of AVFs created in the forearm in Japan, EUR/ANZ, and United States, respectively. Japan displayed superior primary and cumulative patencies due to higher successful AVF use, whereas cumulative functional patency was similar across regions. AVF patency associations with age and other patient characteristics were weak or varied considerably between regions. Catheter-dependence following AVF creation was much longer in EUR/ANZ and US patients, with nearly 70% remaining catheter dependent 8 months after AVF creation when AVFs were not successfully used. Not using an arteriovenous access within 6 months of AVF creation was related to 53% higher mortality in the subsequent 6 months.

Limitations: Residual confounding.

Conclusions: Our findings highlight the need to reevaluate practices for optimizing long-term access planning and achievable AVF outcomes, especially AVF maturation. New AVFs that are not successfully used are associated with long-term catheter exposure and elevated mortality risk. These findings highlight the importance of selecting the best access type for each patient and developing effective clinical pathways for when AVFs fail to mature successfully.

Keywords: AVF maturation; CVC dependence; HD access; Hemodialysis (HD); arteriovenous fistula (AVF); central venous catheter (CVC); end-stage renal disease (ESRD); international comparisons; native AVF; patency; vascular access.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anastomosis, Surgical
  • Arm / blood supply
  • Arteries / surgery*
  • Australia
  • Central Venous Catheters / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Forearm / blood supply
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Japan
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • New Zealand
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Renal Dialysis / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Vascular Patency*
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures*
  • Veins / surgery*