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Volume 6, Pages 808-815
Review Article

Strategy for the Maximal Use of Native Arteriovenous Fistulae for Hemodialysis

Department of Nephrology, University Medical Center Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Received 30 May 2006; Accepted 7 July 2006

Academic Editor: Daniel Batlle

Copyright © 2006 Marko Malovrh.


The long-term survival and quality of life of patients on hemodialysis is dependant on the adequacy of dialysis via an appropriately placed vascular access. The native arteriovenous fistula (AV fistula) at the wrist is generally accepted as the vascular access of choice in hemodialysis patients due to its low complication and high patency rates. It has been shown beyond doubt that an optimally functioning AV fistula is a good prognostic factor of patient morbidity and mortality in the dialysis phase. Recent clinical practice guidelines recommend the creation of a vascular access (native fistula or synthetic graft) before the start of chronic hemodialysis therapy to prevent the need for complication-prone dialysis catheters. A multidisciplinary approach, including nephrologists, surgeons, interventional radiologists, and nurses should improve the hemodialysis outcome by promoting the use of native AV fistulae. An important additional component of this program is the Doppler ultrasound for preoperative vascular mapping. This approach may be realized without unsuccessful surgical explorations, with a minimal early failure rate, and a high maturation, even in risk groups such as elderly and diabetic patients. Vascular access care is responsible for a significant proportion of health care costs in the first year of hemodialysis. These results also support clinical practice guidelines that recommend the preferential placement of a native fistula.