Can vein diameter predict arteriovenous fistula maturation?

One discussion this week included the relationship between vein size and fistula failure.

Reference: Bashar K, et al. The role of venous diameter in predicting arteriovenous fistula maturation: when not to expect an AVF to mature according to pre-operative vein diameter measurements? A best evidence topic. International Journal of Surgery. 2015 Mar;15:95-99. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2015.01.035.

Summary: This best evidence topic was investigated according to a described protocol, and asked the question: what is the minimal vein diameter that can successfully predict maturation of an arteriovenous fistula (AVF) in patients undergoing dialysis?

The search retrieved 804 papers, of which 5 represented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. All studies assessed the association between successful AVF maturation and the size of vein used.

Highlighted findings:

  1. The strongest evidence came from a non-randomised controlled follow-up study in which 76% of fistulas created using >2 mm cephalic vein successfully matured compared to 16% when the vein measured ≤2 mm.
  2. Another prospective, multicentre study showed 65% successful maturation using veins >4 mm compared to 45% with veins < 3 mm. Vein diameter was found to be an independent predictor of maturation in multivariate regression analysis in two retrospective observational studies.
  3. A retrospective observational study found that using venous measurements of ≥2.5 mm following tourniquet application resulted in more fistulas been created that would have otherwise been denied based on venous ultrasound mapping.
  4. Routine use of tourniquet makes it possible to form AVFs in patients who otherwise would have been rejected. One study showed good results from using a transposed BBAVF when a BCAVF was deemed inappropriate following US.

In conclusion, a vein diameter of <2.5 mm should be considered inadequate for formation of an AVF, particularly if those measurements remain unchanged following the use of tourniquet.

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