The impact of training on outcomes in primary vascular access surgery

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Abstract

Background

There is evidence that the outcome of arteriovenous fistula surgery is dependent on the surgeon performing the operation. Vascular access surgery provides excellent technical training for surgical trainees. The effect of surgical trainees on the outcome of fistulas was evaluated.

Methods

The grade of the main operator for all first attempted (primary) upper limb arteriovenous fistulas, between February 1998 and August 2001, was identified. Median follow-up was 18.0 months (IQR, 6.5–30.1 months). Successful use of fistula for dialysis, fistula patency and survival were assessed.

Results

441 primary fistulas were formed in the study period. Median age was 67.5 years (IQR, 54.0–75.2 years). 71% of all fistulas were formed at the wrist. Trainees performed 31.1% of all operations. The two groups (trainees and consultants) were well matched for age, sex, diabetes, and fistula type. Only 70.5% of patients proceeded to long-term haemodialysis. There were no significant differences in the successful use of AVF for dialysis or patency rates between the two groups. One and two year fistula survival in this group was 87.7% and 78.3% for trainees and 80.8% and 71.1% for consultants (P = 0.288 log rank).

Conclusions

Surgical trainees can perform primary AVF surgery without significantly reducing fistula outcomes. Vascular access surgery can be utilised as a training operation.

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