The new frontier in endovascular treatment of arteriovenous fistula stenosis: the role of ultrasound-guided percutaneous transluminal angioplasty


Native arteriovenous fistula is the preferred vascular access because of it does not usually cause infections and seems to be closely related with prolonged patient survival, compared to prosthetic grafts and central venous catheters; it also is cost effective. Venous stenosis is one of the main causes of AVF failure. It is caused by a number of upstream and downstream events. The former group comprises hemodynamic and surgical stressors, inflammatory stimuli and uraemia, while downstream events involve the proliferation of smooth muscle cells and myofibroblasts and the development of neo-intimal hyperplasia. Percutaneous transluminal angioplasty is the gold standard for arteriovenous fistula stenosis. It allows the visualization of the whole vascular circuit and the immediate use of the vascular access for the next dialysis session. Ultrasound-guided percutaneous endovascular angioplasty is a feasible and safe alternative to conventional fluoroscopic technique: it is equally effective in treating arteriovenous fistula stenosis, but it presents the advantage of not using contrast media or ionizing radiation. The aim of this review is to report the latest evidence on cellular and molecular mechanisms that contribute to the development of neo-intimal hyperplasia, as well as the current and future therapeutic perspectives, especially concerning the use of anti-proliferative drugs, and the efficacy of the ultrasound-guided angioplasty in restoring and maintaining the vascular access patency over time.

Key words: Percutaneous angioplasty, ultrasound, arteriovenous fistula, hemodialysis, stenosis.

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