Improving Dialysis Access: Regional Anesthesia Improves Arteriovenous Fistula Prevalence

September 2010
American Surgeon;Sep2010, Vol. 76 Issue 9, p938
Academic Journal
An autologous arteriovenous (AV) fistula is the preferred form of angioaccess for chronic hemodialysis. A prospective study was carried out to evaluate the potential of regional anesthesia to improve AV fistula prevalence. One hundred ninety-three patients underwent preoperative duplex ultrasound evaluation over a 14-month period. The qualification of each patient to receive either an autologous AV fistula or a prosthetic graft was based on specific sonographic criteria. Patients scheduled for placement of a graft received an ultrasound-directed supraclavicular brachial plexus block, which produces dense sympathetic blockade. After the regional block, those patients who met criteria for primary fistula construction on repeat ultrasound received a fistula instead of a graft. Of 62 patients scheduled to receive an AV graft, 23 or 37 per cent were recruited to receive a fistula instead. The outcome of the recruited fistulas was compared with the 121 planned fistulas. There was no statistically significant difference in primary failure rate (4.3 vs 5.8%). The recruited fistulas had a shorter average maturation time, 83 ± 48 versus 132 ± 82 days (P = 0.023). Within the study population, functioning fistula prevalence was increased from 61.7 to 79.8 per cent. Regional anesthesia and immediate preoperative ultrasound is a useful strategy for increasing fistula prevalence.


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