Role of intravascular ultrasound imaging during endovascular interventions of failing hemodialysis access grafts

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Arteriovenous (AV) access graft complications represent a serious complication in patients undergoing hemodialysis. Angiography is one method of visualizing them. However, angiography is not always an effective means of detecting lesions that occur in this context. Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) is an adjunct modality used to identify stenoses responsible for failing access by identifying multiple stenoses, including those that are most severe. The purpose of this study was to define the value of IVUS in patients with failing AV access grafts by comparing digital subtraction angiography (DSA) alone with DSA followed by IVUS.


This was a single-center randomized study comparing IVUS with DSA in patients with failing hemodialysis access grafts. It consisted of 100 randomized hemodialysis patients presenting with failing AV access who were being considered for endovascular intervention. Interventions in the control group were guided by DSA alone, whereas interventions in the test group were guided by DSA followed by IVUS. Patients were observed for 6 months after intervention. The primary end point was the time in days to AV access graft failure after the index intervention, expressed as median and interquartile range. Secondary analyses included influence of DSA and IVUS on index procedure decision-making and percentage of patients with AV access graft reinterventions or discontinuation through 3 and 6 months.


Median time to first AV graft reintervention or discontinuation was 61 days in the test group and 30 days in the control group (P = .16), with analysis limited to patients who experienced reintervention or discontinuation (n = 59). IVUS resulted in a change in treatment plan in 76% (44/58) of patients, with no treatment change after IVUS in 24% (14/58) of patients. At 6 months, approximately 35% of patients in both the control and test groups remained free from reinterventions (P = .88). At 6 months, approximately 75% of patients in the control group and 80% of patients in the test group remained free from AV graft discontinuation or abandonment (P = .45).


This pilot study suggests that addition of IVUS to standard angiography during endovascular interventions of failing hemodialysis access grafts holds potential to extend the time to the first reintervention. The data support the design and execution of an adequately powered randomized trial with longer follow-up to reliably discern the clinical benefit of IVUS as an addition to standard angiography in the setting of failing AV access grafts.

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