Current guidelines suggest that arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is associated with survival advantage over arteriovenous graft (AVG). However, AVFs often require months to become functional, increasing tunneled dialysis catheter (TDC) use, which can erode the benefit of an AVF. We sought to compare survival in patients with end-stage renal disease after creation of an AVF or AVG in patients starting hemodialysis (HD) with a TDC and to identify patient populations that may benefit from preferential use of AVG over AVF.Methods:
Using U.S. Renal Data System databases, we identified incident HD patients in 2005 through 2008 and observed them through 2008. Initial access type and clinical variables including albumin levels were assessed using U.S. Renal Data System data collection forms. Attempts at AVF and AVG creation in patients who started HD through a TDC were identified by Current Procedural Terminology codes. We accounted for the effect of changes in access type by truncating follow-up when an additional AVF or AVG was performed. Survival curves were then constructed, and log-rank tests were used for pairwise survival comparisons, stratified by age. Multivariate analysis was performed with Cox proportional hazards regressions; variables were chosen using stepwise elimination. An interaction of access type and albumin level was detected, and Cox models using differing thresholds for albumin level were constructed. The primary outcome was survival.Results:
Among the 138,245 patients who started with a TDC and had complete records amenable for analysis, 22.8% underwent AVF creation (mean age ± standard deviation, 68.9 ± 12.5 years; 27.8% mortality at 1 year) and 7.6% underwent AVG placement (70.2 ± 12.0 years; 28.2% mortality) within 3 months of HD initiation; 69.6% remained with a TDC (63.2 ± 15.4 years; 33.8% mortality). In adjusted Cox proportional hazards regression, AVF creation is equivalent to AVG placement in terms of survival (hazard ratio [HR], 0.98; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.93-1.02;P= .349). AVG placement is superior to continued TDC use (HR, 1.54; 95% CI, 1.48-1.61;P< .001). In patients older than 80 years with albumin levels >4.0 g/dL, AVF creation is associated with higher mortality hazard compared with AVG creation (HR, 1.22; 95% CI, 1.04-1.43;P= .013).Conclusions:
For patients who start HD through a TDC, placement of an AVF and AVG is associated with similar mortality hazard. Further study is necessary to determine the ideal access for patients in whom the survival advantage of an AVF over an AVG is uncertain.