Purpose: We studied the efficacy of preoperative noninvasive assessment of the upper extremity to identify arteries and veins suitable for hemodialysis access to increase our use of autogenous fistulas (AF).
Methods: From Sep. 1, 1994, to Apr. 1, 1997, 172 patients who required chronic hemodialysis underwent segmental upper extremity Doppler pressures and duplex ultrasound with mapping of arteries and veins. The following criteria were necessary for satisfactory arterial inflow: absence of a pressure gradient between arms, patent palmar arch, and arterial lumen diameter 2.0 mm or more. The criteria necessary for satisfactory venous outflow were venous luminal diameter greater than or equal to 2.5 mm for AF and greater than or equal to 4.0 mm for synthetic bridging grafts (BG) and continuity with distal superficial veins in the arm. Intraoperative and duplex ultrasound measurements were compared. Contemporary experience was compared with the 2-year period (1992 to 1994) before implementation of the protocol.
Results: During the period from Sep. 1, 1994, to Apr. 1, 1997, 108 patients (63%) had AF, 52 (30%) had prosthetic BG, and 12 (7%) had permanent catheters (PC) placed. Early failure was seen in 8.3% of AFs. Primary cumulative patency rates were 83% for AF and 74% for BG at 1 year (p < 0.05), with a mean clinical follow-up of 15.2 months. No postoperative infections were observed with AF, whereas six infections (12%) were observed with BG and two (17%) with PC insertion. During the period from June 1, 1992, to Aug. 31, 1994, 183 procedures were performed with a distribution of 14% AF, 62% BG, and 24% PC. In this earlier period the AF early failure rate was 36%, and the patency rates were 48%, 63%, and 48% for AF, BG, and PC, respectively (mean follow-up, 13.8 months).
Conclusion: A protocol of noninvasive assessment increased use of AFs. The cumulative patency rate of AFs was improved, and early failure rates were reduced when compared with the preceding institutional experience. Routine noninvasive assessment is recommended to document adequacy of arterial inflow and delineate venous outflow to maximize opportunities for AF.