The hemodialysis access: preferences and concerns of patients, dialysis nurses and technicians, and physicians

Am J Nephrol. 1998;18(5):379-83. doi: 10.1159/000013380.


One hundred twenty-eight hemodialysis patients and 64 medical personnel consisting of dialysis nurses and technicians, hemodialysis access surgeons and nephrologists were surveyed about their preferences and concerns in regard to the hemodialysis vascular access. The access preferred by physicians was the A-V fistula in the lower arm. In contrast, the access preferred by dialysis nurses and technicians was the polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) graft in the lower arm. Patients desired a superficial access in the forearm which was easy to cannulate, had minimal effect on their appearance, provided quick hemostasis after dialysis and enabled arm comfort during dialysis. Physicians felt the most significant concerns about the access were thrombosis and infection. Nurses and technicians ranked difficult cannulation and insufficient access blood flows that prohibited dialysis adequacy as their major problems. For patients the most common problem was pain during needle insertion. This survey concluded that the A-V fistula remains the access of choice. However, appropriate maturation of the fistula must occur before needle insertion is attempted. An immature fistula is difficult to cannulate, has fragile veins resulting in blood leakage around the needle infiltrating the subcutaneous tissues and has inadequate blood flows for successful dialysis. Patients who are introduced to dialysis with inadequate access function or access failure from either an A-V fistula or a PTFE graft have increased morbidity, inadequate dialysis and enhanced anxiety about dialysis treatments. To increase the success and acceptance of A-V fistulas in hemodialysis patients it is incumbent upon the nephrologist to protect the future access arm from damage to the vasculature and to allow for fistula maturation before cannulation. Surgical protocols must improve the appropriate selection of a fistula or PTFE graft for various age groups and disease categories. Better patient preparation and selection of the proper access type for each patient will enhance early access function and subsequent access survival.

MeSH terms

  • Arteriovenous Shunt, Surgical* / adverse effects
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis Implantation* / adverse effects
  • Catheters, Indwelling*
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene
  • Renal Dialysis*


  • Polytetrafluoroethylene