Publications : 2019

Bylsma L, Reichert H, Gage S, Roy-Chaudhury P, Nordyke R, Fryzek J, Dahl S, Lithgow T, Lawson J. 2019. Clinical outcomes of arteriovenous access in incident hemodialysis patients with Medicare coverage, 2012-2014. Am J Nephrol 49(2):156-164, doi: 10.1159/000495355.



Chronic hemodialysis requires a mode of vascular access through an arteriovenous fistula (AVF), a prosthetic arteriovenous graft (AVG), or a central venous catheter (CVC). AVF is recommended over AVG or CVC due to increased patency and decreased intervention rates for those that mature. AVG are preferred over CVC due to decreased infection and mortality risk. The aims of this study were to evaluate the lifespan of AVF and AVG in maturation, sustained access use, and abandonment.


The United States Renal Data System (USRDS), Medicare claims, and CROWNWeb were used to identify access placements. Patients with a first end-stage renal disease (ESRD) service from January 1, 2012 to June 30, 2014 with continuous coverage with Medicare as primary payer and ≥1 AVF or AVG placed after ESRD onset were included. Maturation was defined as the first use of the access for hemodialysis recorded in CROWNWeb. Sustained access use was defined as 3 consecutive months of use without catheter placement or replacement. Accesses that were never used at any time post-placement were considered abandoned.


The cohort included 38,035 AVF placements and 12,789 AVG placements. Sixty-nine percent of AVF and 72% of AVG matured. Fifty-two percent of AVF and 51% of AVG achieved sustained access use. One quarter of AVF and 14% of AVG were abandoned without use as recorded in CROWNWeb.


Although considered the gold standard for vascular access, only half of AVF and AVG placements achieved sustained access use. The USRDS database has inherent limitations but provides useful clinical insight into maturation, sustained use, and abandonment.