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Nineteen patients in whom it was impossible to create an arteriovenous (AV) fistula were hemodialyzed with adult Hickman catheters as the sole vascular access. Catheter survival was 45% at 1 year, with eight patients requiring two or three catheters for the continuation of their treatment. The probability of a patient still being dialyzed with a Hickman catheter at 1 year was 69%. The calculated risk of developing the most frequent complications was 0.07/100 catheter days for sepsis, 0.4/100 catheter days for thrombosis, and 0.06/100 catheter days for outflow obstruction. These figures seem quite acceptable, and the use of Hickman catheters as permanent vascular access is warranted in this category of difficult patient.