Publications : 2017

Bylsma LC, Gage SM, Reichert H, Dahl SLM, Lawson JH. 2017. Arteriovenous fistulas for hemodialysis: A systematic review and meta-analysis of efficacy and safety outcomes. Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg 54:513e522.



Arteriovenous fistulae re the currently recommended gold standard vascular access modality for haemodialysis because of their prolonged patency, improved durability, and low risk of infection for those that mature. However, notable disadvantages are observed in terms of protracted maturation time, associated high rates of catheter use, and substantial abandonment rates. The aim of this study was to quantitatively summarize the outcomes of fistula patency, infection, maturation, and abandonment published in the scientific literature.


This was a systematic review and meta-analyses of studies evaluating fistula outcomes. Literature searches were conducted in multiple databases to identify observational and interventional studies of mean fistula patency rates at 1 year, infection risk, maturation time, and abandonment. Digitisation software was used to simulate individual patient level data from Kaplan–Meier survival plots.


Over 8000 studies were reviewed, and from these, 318 studies were included comprising 62,712 accesses. For fistulas the primary unassisted, primary assisted, and secondary patency rates at one year were 64%, 73% and 79% respectively, however not all fistulas reported as patent could be confirmed as being clinically useful for dialysis (i.e. functional patency). For fistulas that were reported as mature, mean time to maturation was 3.5 months, however only 26% of created fistulas were reported as mature at 6 months and 21% of fistulas were abandoned without use. Overall risk of infection in fistula patients was 4.1% and the overall rate per 100 access days was 0.018.


Reported fistula patency rates may overstate their potential clinical utility when time to maturation, maturation rate, abandonment and infection are considered. Protracted maturation times, abandonment and infection all have a significant impact on evaluating the clinical utility of fistula creation. A rigorous and consistent set of outcomes definitions for hemodialysis access are necessary to clarify factors contributing to fistula success and the clinical consequence of fistula failure.