A meta-analysis of dialysis access outcome in elderly patients

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Many authors report inferior patency rates of distal arteriovenous fistulas in elderly patients and others present contradictory results. A meta-analysis of available evidence was performed to assess (1) whether non-elderly adults have the same risk of forearm arteriovenous fistula failure as elderly patients with end-stage renal disease and (2) whether such a distal access has the same risk of failure as more proximal access procedures or grafts in elderly patients.


A literature search was performed using the MEDLINE and SCOPUS electronic databases. The analysis involved studies that comprised subgroups of elderly patients and compared their outcomes with those of non-elderly adults. Articles comparing patency rates of radial-cephalic and proximal fistulas or grafts in elderly patients were also included. Thirteen relevant studies (all cohort observational studies, 11 retrospective) were identified and included in the final analysis.


The meta-analysis revealed a statistically significantly higher rate of radial-cephalic arteriovenous fistula failure in elderly patients compared with non-elderly adults at 12 (odds ratio [OR], 1.525;P= .001) and 24 months (OR, 1.357,P= .019). The primary radial-cephalic arteriovenous fistula failure rate was also in favor of the non-elderly adults (OR, 1.79;P= .012). Secondary analysis revealed a pooled effect in favor of the elbow brachiocephalic fistulas that was statistically significant (P= .004) compared with distal fistulas in elderly patients.


This meta-analysis found an increased risk of radial-cephalic fistula failure in elderly patients and significant benefit from the creation of proximal autologous brachiocephalic fistulas. If confirmed by further prospective studies, these differences should be considered when planning a vascular access in incident elderly patients.

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