Central venous stenoses are a frequent complication in hemodialysis patients. These lesions lead to fistula thromboses, arm swelling, and limit future vascular access. Stenoses are characterized by excellent initial response to transluminal angioplasty but rapid recurrence. Response to angioplasty allows classification of stenoses as elastic or nonelastic. The success of angioplasty alone in 30 patients with central venous stenoses was compared to angioplasty and Wallstent placement in 11 patients with recurrent stenoses. In those who had angioplasty alone, 7%+ failed angioplasty, 70% had > or = 50% improvement in the luminal diameter while 23% showed no improvement due to elastic lesions. Subsequently, 81% of those with a successful result restenosed at an average of 7.6 months while 100% of elastic lesions occluded in an average of 2.9 months. In the 10 patients who underwent angioplasty and Wallstent placement, 5 were due to elastic lesions with four recurrences at a mean of 8.6 months. Four of five patients (80%) stented with nonelastic lesions had reappearance of symptoms at a mean of 4.2 months. We conclude that vascular stents should be reserved for those lesions that show elastic recoil after standard angioplasty.