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Overview of the treatment of stenosis and thrombotic complications of hemodialysis arteriovenous grafts and fistulas

Michael Allon, MD
Ivan D Maya, MD, FACP
Section Editor
Jeffrey S Berns, MD
Deputy Editor
Kathryn A Collins, MD, PhD, FACS


Hemodialysis requires access to blood vessels capable of providing rapid extracorporeal blood flow. These requirements are currently best met by both primary arteriovenous (AV) fistulas and synthetic grafts. (See "Arteriovenous fistulas and grafts for chronic hemodialysis access".)

A discussion of the treatment of venous stenosis and thrombotic complications of hemodialysis AV grafts is presented in this topic review. Issues surrounding clinical monitoring and surveillance of AV grafts to prevent thrombosis are presented in detail separately. (See "Monitoring and surveillance of hemodialysis arteriovenous grafts to prevent thrombosis".)


Underlying stenosis of the vascular access circuit is an important predictor of graft or fistula thrombosis. Therefore, angioplasty of a stenotic lesion has been advocated as the treatment of choice to prevent graft or fistula thrombosis and/or failure of the vascular access.

In general, preemptive angioplasty of the stenotic lesion in grafts is not a permanent treatment due to its short primary and secondary patency (defined as time to next radiologic or surgical intervention and time to complete failure of the access, respectively). Even after an excellent technical success (visual inspection at time of the angioplasty), which is close to 100 percent, the low rates of access patency at three, six and twelve months are discouraging [1-7].

In fistulas, the treatment can be divided into two arms. One is the use of angioplasty as a form of treatment to salvage immature fistulas, and the second is the angioplasty of a stenotic lesion on a matured fistula.


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Literature review current through: Mar 2016. | This topic last updated: Mar 29, 2013.
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