Vascular ultrasonography in the preparation and surveillance of arteriovenous fistula: a monocentric experience


Creating an arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is complicated by the gradual increase in the average age of patients initiating chronic haemodialysis treatment and by the greater prevalence of pathologies that impact the cardiovascular system.

In the past, the choice of which vessels to use for the creation of the AVF was essentially based on the physical examination of the upper limbs. Current international guidelines suggest that a colour doppler ultrasound (DUS) should be performed to complete the physical examination. Similarly, vascular ultrasound is fundamental in the post-operative phase for appropriately monitoring the access.

We have conducted a retrospective analysis on the use of DUS in clinical practice in our centre, in order to determine the repercussions on vascular access survival. To this end, we identified three phases, according to the methods that were used for pre-operative vascular evaluation and monitoring of the AVF, that saw the progressive integration of clinical and ultrasound parameters.

The analysis of the data highlighted a statistically significant higher rate of survival for all vascular accesses, evaluated as a whole, and for distal AVFs, in the third phase, despite a greater percentage of patients over 75 (48% vs 28%).

In conclusion, we believe that an approach integrating clinical and ultrasound evaluation is indispensable to identify the most suitable AVF site and guarantee its efficiency over time.


Keywords: haemodialysis, arteriovenous fistula, colour doppler ultrasound, monitoring, vascular access

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Un trattamento emodialitico adeguato necessita di un accesso vascolare ben funzionante nel tempo.

I pazienti affetti da insufficienza renale cronica (CKD) al IV° stadio (eGFR <30 ml/min), devono pertanto essere accuratamente studiati al fine di poter avviare il trattamento sostitutivo con un accesso vascolare idoneo [1].

I dati della letteratura e le linee guida internazionali in merito indicano la fistola artero-venosa (FAV), allestita con vasi nativi, quale accesso di prima scelta per un minore rischio d’infezione e trombosi, una migliore sopravvivenza, minori costi correlati alla necessità di ospedalizzazione se paragonati alla FAV protesica o al catetere venoso centrale tunnellizato (CVCt) [2].

Nei pazienti affetti da CKD il corretto utilizzo del patrimonio vascolare degli arti superiori costituisce un momento fondamentale ai fini del futuro confezionamento di una FAV. L’attuale incremento dell’età media dei pazienti a inizio trattamento emodialitico cronico e la maggiore prevalenza negli stessi di patologie ad elevato impatto sul sistema cardio-vascolare (diabete mellito, angiosclerosi, arteriopatia obliterante polidistrettuale), determinano maggiori difficoltà nell’allestire una FAV che garantisca buona efficienza dialitica e sufficiente durata nel tempo [3].

Tra le FAV native, il gold standard è rappresentato dalla FAV radio-cefalica distale con anastomosi a livello del polso: essa è associata ad un minor rischio sindrome di steal [4] e, al contrario di una FAV prossimale (omero-cefalica; omero-basilica), raramente sviluppa una elevata portata, causa non trascurabile di scompenso cardiaco nei pazienti uremici.

Basile et al. in uno studio prospettico hanno analizzato il rapporto tra Qa FAV ed output cardiaco e concludevano che una portata uguale o maggiore a 2000 ml/min rappresenta il giusto cut-off nel predire il rischio di scompenso cardiaco cronico ad alta gittata [5]. 

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Spondylodiscitis in hemodialysis patients: a new emerging disease? Data from an Italian Center


Hemodialysis (HD) patients are at high risk for infectious complications such as spondylodiscitis. The aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the cases of infective spondylodiscitis occurred between May 2005 and October 2019 among HD patients at our center.

In 14 years, there were 9 cases (mean age 69±12 years). The main comorbidities found were diabetes mellitus (55.6% of patients), hypertension (55.6%), bone diseases (22.2%), cancer (11.1%) and rheumatoid arthritis treated with steroids (11.1%). The clinical onset included back pain (100% of cases), fever (55.6%), neurological deficits (33.4%), leukocytosis (55.6%) and elevated CRP level (88.9%).

Most cases were diagnosed by magnetic resonance imaging (66.7%) with more frequent involvement of lumbar region (77.8%). Blood cultures were positive in five patients (mostly for S. aureus); three of them used catheters as vascular access and, in two cases, their removal was necessary. The mean time interval between the onset of symptoms and the diagnosis was 34±42 days.

All patients received antibiotic treatment for a mean duration of 6 weeks; most cases were initially treated with vancomycin or teicoplanin plus ciprofloxacin. Most patients (77.8%) recovered after a mean of 3.5 months; one patient had a relapse after 2 years and one patient had long-term neurologic sequelae.

Infective spondylodiscitis in HD must be suspected in the presence of back pain, even in the absence of fever or traditional risk factors. An early diagnosis could improve the outcome. Close monitoring of vascular access, disinfection procedures and aseptic techniques are important to avoid this complication.


Keywords: spondylodiscitis, hemodialysis, back pain, vascular access, infectious complications, bacteremia


Septicemia and infections contribute to 12% of deaths in uremic patients [1].

Hemodialysis (HD) patients represent a risk category for bacteremia (in particular caused by S. aureus), because of the coexistence of multiple risk factors: the immunodepression typical of uremia, the frequent venopunctures of native and prosthetic fistulas and the presence of temporary or permanent venous catheters [23].

One of the possible complications of bacteremia is spondylodiscitis, defined as infection of the vertebra and intervertebral disc sometimes extended to the surrounding soft tissues [47]. The incidence of this disease varies between 1:250,000 patients/year [89] and 0,4-2,4:100.000 patients/year [5] in the general population, while the major studies carried out on HD patients report an incidence of 1:80–1:215 patients/year [1011].

Although bacterial spondylodiscitis is one of the most serious complications that can occur to dialysis patients, few cases have been reported in the literature; it is therefore not clear which is the best clinical management. Moreover, diagnosis may be often delayed due to the insidious onset of the symptoms.

Considering the cases occurred in our center, in this work we analyze the clinical features and the problems related to the diagnosis and the therapy of spondylodiscitis in HD patients; the possible risk factors related to the onset of this disease are also considered.



A retrospective study has been conducted by evaluating all cases of infective spondylodiscitis that occurred between May 2005 and October 2019 among the HD patients at our center (IRCCS Multimedica, Sesto San Giovanni, Milan, Italy).

Patients were identified according to a diagnosis of “spondylodiscitis” and “ESRD” from the hospital records. The diagnosis of infective spondylodiscitis was based on clinical data, laboratory results [5, 12] and diagnostic imaging tests [1213]. The exclusion criteria were as follows: post-operative spinal infection, patients affected by chronic renal insufficiency not in hemodialysis, patients who received HD for less than 14 days. We finally included 9 cases.

For each patient, demographic data, personal medical history, dialytic age and type of vascular access were collected. The baseline characteristics included age, gender, primary cause of ESRD and main comorbidities (diabetes mellitus, hypertension, malignancy, bone and joint diseases). Regarding infective spondylodiscitis, initial clinical symptoms, laboratory and culture test results, diagnostic tools and location of spinal infection were collected for each patient. We focused in particular on the time interval between the onset of symptoms and the diagnosis, often delayed.

Finally, we collected data regarding the treatments performed and the patients’ outcomes.



In 14 years, there have been 9 cases of infective spondylodiscitis in our center, with an estimated incidence of 1:200 patients/year. The incidence was calculated by comparing the number of cases to the dialysis population over 14 years (we usually treat chronically 100 HD patients).

Table 1 shows the clinical characteristics of the patients with infective spondylodiscitis treated in our center. Sixty-seven percent of patients were male, the mean age was 69±12 years. The primary causes of ESRD included diabetic nephropathy (3 patients, 33.4%), obstructive nephropathy (2 patients, 22.2%), autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (1 patient, 11.1%), arterial hypertension (1 patient, 11.1%) and unknown causes (2 patients, 22.2%). Five patients (55.6%) were affected by diabetes mellitus, 11.1% by obesity, 55.6% by arterial hypertension and 22.2% by bone diseases. One patient was known for rheumatoid arthritis and was in chronic treatment with low-dose steroids and azathioprine; none of the other patients received chronic immunosuppressive therapy. One patient was affected by prostatic cancer.

All patients had back pain as an initial symptom, 55.6% had fever, while 33.4% had neurological symptoms, such as limb weakness and paresthesia (Table 2).


Patient Age [years] Gender Cause of ESRD Comorbidities
1 62 M Diabetes Diabetes
2 78 M Unknown Myelodysplasia
3 63 M Unknown Obesity, arterial hypertension, hypothyroidism, diabetes
4 78 F Unknown Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis
5 69 F Nephrolithiasis Diabetes, secondary hyperparathyroidism
6 73 F ADPKD Diabetes, arterial hypertension, Graves’ disease, vasculopathy
7 88 M Obstructive nephropathy Arterial hypertension, prostatic cancer
8 48 M Diabetes Diabetes, arterial hypertension
9 61 M Arterial hypertension Arterial hypertension
ESRD, end stage renal disease; ADPKD, autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease
Table 1: Characteristics of the patients with infective spondylodiscitis in care at our center.


Patient Back Pain Fever Neurological symptoms WBC CRP Diagnostic tools Location
1 Yes Yes No 26700 26.7 CT, MRI D9-D10
2 Yes Yes No 28000 22 MRI L5-S1
3 Yes No Yes 10200 5.83 MRI L3-L4
4 Yes No Yes 3800 9.9 MRI L4-L5
5 Yes Yes Yes 15500 10.1 MRI D4-D5
6 Yes No No 6230 8.52 CT, MRI L4-L5
7 Yes No No 5290 0.3 MRI L4-L5
8 Yes Yes No 22500 31.8 CT L4-L5
9 Yes Yes No 7130 3.7 MRI L1-L2
WBC, white blood cell count (cells/ml); CRP, c-reactive protein (mg/dl); MRI, magnetic resonance imaging
Table 2: Initial clinical presentation, initial laboratory results, diagnostic tools, location of infection.


Figure 1: MRI of the lumbosacral spine without gadolinium contrast showing discitis at the L4–L5 level (patient n. 6)


At hospital admission 55.6% of patients had leukocytosis, while 88.9% had elevated CRP levels (Table 2).

Six patients (66.7 %) had their diagnoses confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (Figure 1), while two had a CT performed prior to MRI (Table 2). One patient had his diagnosis confirmed by CT only (it was not possible to perform MRI because of the presence of a metallic foreign object in the patient’s body). All patients had performed a spine radiograph that turned out not to be diagnostic. In no case it was necessary to perform a FDG-PET for the diagnosis of spondylodiscitis. Echocardiography was performed in 2 cases, both negative for valvular vegetation, to exclude infective endocarditis.

The lumbar level was the most common site of infection (7 patients, 77.8 %); in 2 patients (22.2 %), the thoracic spine was also involved, while in no case the cervical spine was involved (Table 2).

The mean dialytic age was 33±38 months, as reported in Table 3. Four patients (44.4 %) used an arteriovenous fistula (AVF) as vascular access for hemodialysis, 1 patient (11.1 %) used an arteriovenous graft (AVG), 3 patients (33.4 %) used a tunneled cuffed catheter (TCC), and 1 patient (11.1 %) used a non-tunneled catheter (NTC) (Table 3). Two patients had experienced thrombosis of the arteriovenous fistula for hemodialysis and underwent endovascular surgery. The surgical interventions had not been successful; for this reason, central venous catheters for hemodialysis had been positioned (a tunneled cuffed catheter in one case, a non-tunneled catheter, then removed and replaced, in the other). Blood cultures were positive in five cases, four for S. aureus (Table 3) and one for S. agalactiae. In the first of our 9 cases, the non-tunneled catheter, which was the source of the infection, was removed and replaced. In the second case the infection was successfully treated without the need of removing the tunneled cuffed catheter. In the third and fourth cases, the patients had AVFs and no sign of local infection. In the fifth case, the removal of the TCC was necessary due to the persistence of a septic status related to the catheter. A NTC was subsequently placed and an AVF was created.


Patient Dialytic age [months] Vascular access Blood culture Bone biopsy Diagnostic delay
1 45 NTC S. aureus Not executed 1 month
2 24 AVF Negative Not executed 3 months
3 3 TCC S. aureus Not executed 5 days
4 57 AVF Negative Not executed 10 days
5 12 AVF S. aureus S. aureus 3 weeks
6 120 AVG Negative Negative 4 months
7 16 TCC Negative Not executed 3 weeks
8 1 TCC S. aureus Negative 3 days
9 15 AVF Streptococcus agalactiae Not executed 5 days
AVF, arteriovenous fistula; AVG, arteriovenous graft; NTC, non-tunneled catheter; TCC, tunneled cuffed catheter
Table 3: Dialytic age, vascular access for hemodialysis, culture results, time interval between onset of symptoms and diagnosis


A bone biopsy was performed in three instances (Table 3). In the first case, the patient developed a paraplegia with level D4 during hospitalization; she was therefore subjected to a neurosurgical operation of bone marrow decompression. The bone culture test confirmed the diagnosis of S. aureus spondylodiscitis. Despite surgical intervention and the use of targeted systemic antibiotic therapy, the recovery of lower limb function was not achieved. In the second case, a bone biopsy was performed because of the persistence of painful symptoms after months of antibiotic therapy; the cultural exam of the disc and the vertebral body was negative; the patient was then discharged with a diagnosis of chronic spondylodiscitis. In the third case, the bone biopsy was also performed due to the persistence of painful symptoms and the exam resulted negative.

The mean time interval between the onset of symptoms and the diagnosis was 34±42 days (Table 3). All patients received antibiotic treatment and the mean treatment duration was 6 weeks (Table 4). In most cases, vancomycin or teicoplanin plus ciprofloxacin were used as initial antibiotics (Table 4). The aim of the initial empiric treatment was to cover Staphylococci and Gram-negative bacilli. One patient underwent surgical intervention due to progressive neurologic deficits, as reported above. In four cases, the use of an orthopedic corset was prescribed (Table 4).

One patient had another infective spondylodiscitis within 2 years, caused by a different organism to in his first event. One patient had long-term neurologic sequelae despite surgical treatment. The others 7 patients recovered after a mean of 3.5 months (Table 4).


Patient Antibiotics Duration of antibiotic therapy Surgical treatment Orthopedic corset Outcome
1 Vancomycin plus gentamicin 4 weeks No Yes Recurrent after 2 years
2 Vancomycin plus ciprofloxacin; then teicoplanin plus ceftazidime 8 weeks No No Resolution after 2 months
3 Vancomycin plus ciprofloxacin plus ceftazidime 8 weeks No No Resolution after 3 months
4 Teicoplanin plus ciprofloxacin 4 weeks No Yes Resolution after 3 months
5 Vancomycin plus ciprofloxacin 8 weeks Yes, bone marrow decompression / Paraplegia D4
6 Levofloxacin plus rifampicin 4 weeks No Yes Resolution after 8 months
7 Ciprofloxacin 8 weeks No No Resolution after 3 months
8 Teicoplanin; then Linezolid 8 weeks No Yes Resolution after 4 months
9 Vancomycin plus levofloxacin 4 weeks No No Resolution after 1 month
Table 4: Treatments and outcome of patients



In our center there have been 9 cases of infective spondylodiscitis over 14 years, with an estimated incidence of 1:200 patients/year, which is in line to what has been previously reported in the literature regarding HD patients [1011].

The mean age of the patients considered in our study was 69±12 years, suggesting, as is also reported in the literature, that in recent years spondylodiscitis has evolved from an acute pathology with a high mortality mostly affecting young patients to a more indolent disorder affecting elderly patients, with a reduced mortality but more frequent relapses and debilitating sequelae [14].

The most frequent comorbidities found in our patients were diabetes mellitus (55.6%), arterial hypertension (55.6%) and bone diseases (22.2%). Several risk factors for spondylodiscitis are reported in the literature: diabetes mellitus, intravenous drug abuse, liver disease, immunodeficiency, alcoholism, rheumatoid arthritis, steroid therapy, immunosuppressive therapy, tumors [1516]. The prevalence of arterial hypertension among our cases of spondylodiscitis appears lower than that of the hemodialysis population (55.6% vs 80%); however, the relationship reported in previous studies between arterial hypertension and spondylodiscitis in HD patients is an association, not a cause and effect relationship. The prevalence of diabetes mellitus in our sample appears to be higher than that reported in the literature among hemodialysis patients (55.6% vs 30%). This could indicate that diabetes can favor infectious processes, including spondylodiscitis, and confirms that diabetes mellitus could be a risk factor for vertebral infections, as reported in previous studies. It is interesting to note that in our case series one patient was treated for rheumatoid arthritis with low-dose steroids and azathioprine at the time of the spondylodiscitis episode; another patient was affected by prostatic cancer.

Our small sample of patients seems therefore representative of the main risk factors for spondylodiscitis, except for alcoholism and liver disease; in it we found diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, steroid therapy and cancer. Moreover, other risk factors, related to the state of uremia and to dialysis treatment, may play a decisive role in the onset of spondylodiscitis: they are the immunodepression typical of uremia, the frequent use of central venous catheterization as vascular access for hemodialysis, the frequent venopuncture of the fistulas, both native and prosthetic, and the endovascular surgery procedures for thrombosis of the vascular access, with the consequent greater risk of bacteremia and infectious complications [23]. In our case series, 44.4% of patients used an AVF as vascular access for hemodialysis, 11.1% used an AVG, 33.4% used a TCC, and 11.1% used a NTC. Two patients had experienced thrombosis of the arteriovenous fistula, requiring endovascular surgery. Moreover, the blood cultures resulted positive for S. aureus in three of the four patients with central venous catheter and the catheter removal was necessary in two cases. A previous article reports that 91% of their spondylodiscitis cases used a central venous catheter instead of an arteriovenous fistula as vascular access for hemodialysis [17]. For this reason, possible preventive strategies in hemodialysis patients are the choice of AVF as vascular access, as it is associated with a lower incidence of spondylodiscitis compared to the TCC [11], and the close monitoring of the vascular access, paying particular attention to disinfection procedures and aseptic techniques [18].

In our case series, all patients had back pain at the onset of symptoms, while fever and neurological symptoms were present only in some. The literature also describes back pain as the main clinical manifestation of the disease; it is present in 90% of all cases, at the level of the affected bone metamer [15]. Fever is not a constant finding and is present only in half of the cases, while neurological symptoms are found in 30% of patients with spondylodiscitis [1516]. At hospital admission 55.6% of our patients had leukocytosis, 88.9% had elevated CRP levels. In the literature, leukocytosis is reported in 40% of cases and an increase in inflammatory indices in 80% of them [19].

Magnetic resonance imaging of the spine is the most sensitive and specific radiological method to diagnose vertebral osteomyelitis; it is also the procedure of choice to assess the extent of the disease, the involvement of soft tissues and neurological structures and the possible presence of abscesses [13]. Spine radiography is often performed first and shows alterations in 89% of cases [13]; however, it has a reduced sensitivity and specificity, especially in the early stages [20]. CT is less sensitive than MRI and is generally used when the latter is contraindicated, as well as to perform CT guided percutaneous biopsy [20]. A final exam that can help locate abnormalities and monitor the response to treatment is FDG-PET, which is especially indicated in cases where the patient cannot undergo MRI [12, 21]. In our case series, 66.7% of patients had their diagnoses confirmed by MRI, one patient had his diagnosis confirmed by CT, while two patients had a CT performed prior to MRI. In no case we performed FDG-PET.

In our sample of patients, the lumbar spine was the most common site of infection, followed by the thoracic spine. Generally, the lumbar vertebrae are the most frequently affected (60-70% of cases in the literature) given their wide vascularization [22]. As reported in previous studies, in 10% of cases the infection localizes at the cervical level (the site that can most frequently lead to neurological complications); in 20-30% of cases it is localized at the thoracic level, while the sacral localization is found in less than 10% of cases [5, 23].

In our study, blood cultures were positive in five instances, four for S. aureus and one for S. agalactiae. Spondylodiscitis are generally due to a hematogenous infection by S. aureus (50% of cases in the literature), but episodes caused by Gram-negative, P. aeruginosa, S. epidermidis, Streptococci of group C and G have been described (especially in diabetic patients) [4]. Generally, blood cultures are positive in 50-70% of patients with vertebral osteomyelitis [1516].

We performed a bone biopsy in three cases. CT-guided percutaneous vertebral disc biopsy may be considered in patients with negative blood cultures who do not respond to antibiotic therapy; it identifies the pathogen in 60-70% of cases. The possibility of identifying the causative pathogen is reduced if the patient has previously taken antibiotics. The histological examination of the biopsy may show disc necrosis and neutrophil infiltration, too [5]. In patients with suspected spondylodiscitis, with persistent symptoms despite antibiotic therapy and negative microbiological tests (blood culture and disc biopsy) it is indicated to repeat a second percutaneous biopsy and eventually proceed with an open biopsy, that is positive in 75% of cases [5, 12].

All our patients received antibiotic treatment, in most of the cases vancomycin or teicoplanin plus ciprofloxacin as initial therapy. Randomized controlled trials on empirical antibiotic therapy have not yet been conducted and therefore no antibiotic, alone or in an association, is currently considered superior to the others in treating this infection. Usually, an empirical antibiotic therapy is set up with broad-spectrum antibiotics with anti-staphylococcal activity (for example vancomycin or teicoplanin), also associating an agent with anti-negative bacilli activity [2425]. Antibiotic therapy should continue for at least 4-8 weeks (up to 6-12 weeks) [2425]. In our case series, the mean treatment duration was 6 weeks.

The recommended therapy also consists in immobilization, with bed rest with analgesia for at least 2-4 weeks, followed by the gradual mobilization with orthopedic corset; this was prescribed to four of our patients. Surgery can be indicated if there are neurological deficits, radicular compression, a need to prevent and correct instability and deformity, severe persistent pain, or when it is necessary to perform drainage of abscesses or open biopsy [6, 23]. In our case series, only one patient underwent surgical intervention due to progressive neurologic deficits.

The mortality rate for spondylodiscitis among HD patients is reported at 16.7%. In our case series, no patient died due to infection, although one had a second infective spondylodiscitis within 2 years and another suffered from long-term neurologic sequelae, despite surgical treatment. The others seven patients recovered after an average of 3.5 months.

An early diagnosis that identifies, where possible, the responsible microorganism, could prevent the development of such complications and could improve the outcome for patients, allowing for a prompt resolution of the infective episode [14]. An algorithm on the possible diagnostic/therapeutic workup for the management of suspected cases of spondylodiscitis among hemodialysis patients is shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2: Algorithm on the possible diagnostic/therapeutic workup for the management of suspected cases of spondylodiscitis among hemodialysis patients.


Our study certainly presents some limits due to the reduced number of cases and its descriptive and retrospective nature. However, it is the first Italian study that focuses on this rare disease, characterized by important mortality and complications, especially among hemodialysis patients, and on the diagnostic delay that often occurs.



Infective spondylodiscitis must be suspected in the presence of back pain in HD patients, even in the absence of fever and traditional risk factors. In order to improve the outcome for patients and obtain a prompt resolution, it is important to get an early diagnosis by identifying, if possible, the responsible microorganism, and to avoid any delays in the diagnosis. Finally, the close monitoring of vascular access, and a great attention to disinfection procedures and aseptic techniques are all important to avoid these serious infectious complications.




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  9. Roblot F, Besnier JM, Juhel L, et al. Optimal duration of Antibiotic Therapy in Vertebral Osteomyelitis. Semin Arthritis Rheum 2007; 36:269-77.
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Evaluation via ecocolordoppler before creating a vascular access for hemodyalisis: a monocentric experience


The use of a preoperative echocolordoppler improves the clinical evaluation because provides anatomical and hemodynamic information that make it an important tool in planning vascular access strategy.

The preoperative ultrasound study of the vessels can significantly reduce the failure rate and the incidence of complications of vascular access.

We describe the experience of our center, lasting 10-year, where the ultrasound assessment was performed in all patients before the creation of vascular access.

Indeed, ultrasound reduces the rate of fistula failure and increases the utilization of fistula, allowing proper selection of vessels.

In addition, the presence of the vascular access team has allowed us to achieve quite satisfactory results.


Keywords: vascular access, imaging, ecocolordoppler, presurgical evaluation, hemodyalisis

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Il buon funzionamento dell’accesso vascolare (FAV) è uno degli elementi cruciali per la riuscita del trattamento emodialitico ed è associato ad una riduzione della morbilità e mortalità del paziente uremico. Un basso tasso di trombosi della FAV è uno degli obiettivi più importanti per migliorare la qualità di vita e delle prestazioni sanitarie dei pazienti in trattamento emodialitico. Tuttavia, ancora oggi, la problematica legata agli accessi vascolari rappresenta, nella sua evidente complessità, un nodo dolente della terapia sostitutiva renale. Inoltre, oggi più che mai, noi nefrologi siamo chiamati a gestire il paziente emodializzato in termini sempre più elevati di qualità della prestazione sanitaria e di riduzione dei costi.

Le prime Linee Guida KDOQI, pubblicate oltre dieci anni fa, raccomandavano di approntare una fistola con vasi nativi almeno 3-4 mesi prima del previsto inizio del trattamento emodialitico e di ridurre il posizionamento dei cateteri venosi centrali (CVC), incrementando il numero dei pazienti portatori di una fistola ben funzionante [1]. Le linee guida pubblicate più recentemente (UK Renal Association, Società Europea per gli accessi vascolari (ESVS), Associazione Europea ERA-EDTA ed il Gruppo Multidisciplinare Spagnolo degli Accessi Vascolari (GEMAV)) sono dirette oltre che ai chirurghi, anche a tutti i professionisti coinvolti nella cura e nella gestione dell’accesso vascolare al fine di migliorare la qualità di vita del paziente emodializzato [25]. Quindi sono di notevole aiuto al fine di stabilire le migliori strategie di gestione per tutti i pazienti che necessitano di un accesso vascolare (AV).


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Assessing the quality of life in patients with a vascular access


Patients undergoing haemodialytic treatment have a lower quality of life than the general population because of several factors. Their wellbeing can be assessed through a clinical evaluation or through the subjective point of view of the patients themselves: the perceived Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) is an index calculated on the basis of the patients’ own perspective. A well-functioning vascular access (VA) and the absence of complications are certainly associated with better health in patients on dialysis but unfortunately VA-related perceived HRQoL has so far been a subject of little interesting literature, even though the choice of the most appropriate access in the individual patient is today increasingly articulate and difficult. Information about subjective perception of health is typically collected through generic or specific questionnaires. The most used reproducible questionnaires available are SF-36, EuroQoL5D, SONG-HD, WHOQoL-BREF, VAQ, although not all of them have been used for a targeted assessment of the issues concerning HRQoL and VA function. This review confirms that the VAQ questionnaire is currently the simplest and most reliable tool to assess patient satisfaction with their VA.

Keywords: Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL), questionnaires, vascular access

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In linea generale la qualità di vita di un paziente può essere valutata in due modi: 1) una valutazione clinica dello stato di salute che tenga conto del benessere psichico e fisico, della disabilità e dell’efficienza lavorativa; 2) una valutazione basata sulla percezione soggettiva che lo stesso paziente riferisce della propria qualità di vita (QoL). La qualità di vita salute-correlata (HRQoL) percepita è un indice misurato attraverso la prospettiva del paziente stesso e correla strettamente al numero di ospedalizzazioni e alla mortalità [1]. Le informazioni su questa percezione soggettiva della salute, raccolte in genere attraverso dei questionari, possono fornire al clinico dati fondamentali sul paziente e il suo vissuto e guidare alla scelta assistenziale più appropriata. Gli strumenti utilizzati a questo scopo vengono suddivisi in questionari generici e questionari specifici. I questionari generici sono indirizzati a misurare il benessere e la funzionalità complessiva del soggetto senza riferimento ad una specifica malattia. Questi strumenti offrono il vantaggio di poter essere utilizzati in diversi contesti, con popolazioni diverse, sia in persone affette da malattia che in soggetti sani, ma, per la loro genericità, non riescono a cogliere cambiamenti nella QoL in particolari patologie. I questionari specifici prevedono invece domande specifiche orientate alla patologia di cui il soggetto è affetto e dunque sono più accurati e sensibili nella misura della QoL in rapporto alla situazione contingente.


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Peripheral hypoperfusion syndrome and monomielic syndrome: from diagnosis to treatment. Case report with review of the literature


Arteriovenous access ischemic steal is a fairly uncommon complication associated with the creation of a vascular access for hemodialysis, which can sometimes cause potentially devastating complications, with permanent disability. Several old names for this syndrome have now been replaced by two new denominations: Hemodialysis Access-Induced Distal Ischemia (HAIDI) and Distal Hypoperfusion Ischemic Syndrome (DHIS).

Clinically, we distinguish between the Peripheral Hypoperfusion Syndrome, which can cause gangrene of the fingers, and the Monomelic Syndrome, characterized by low incidence and by the presence of neurological dysfunctions. Risk factors include diabetes mellitus, atherosclerotic vascular disease, old age, female gender, tobacco use and hypertension.

We report the case of a patient with HAIDI in order to increase awareness on this syndrome’s early diagnosis and proper management. After describing the case, we also include a literature review.


Keywords: hand Ischemia, vascular access, echocolordoppler, hemodialysis

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Case Report

Descriviamo il caso di un uomo di 58 anni con una storia di diabete mellito di lunga durata, ipertensione arteriosa e vasculopatia periferica. Il primo accesso vascolare (AV) allestito era una FAV brachio-cefalica al braccio sinistro. Subito dopo l’intervento, però, si assisteva alla comparsa di lieve dolore, parestesie e debolezza della mano, sintomatologia che è andata via via scomparendo nei giorni successivi. 

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Superior Cava Vein stenosis in a hemodialysis patient with long-term central venous catheter and vascular graft: a case report


Recently, the use of central venous catheters (CVC) as a vascular access in patients undergoing hemodialysis is significantly increased, mainly because of the aging of this population and the presence of several comorbidities. However, the implantation and the long stay of CVC are associated with many complications. Among them, central venous stenosis represents one of the most common problems that, if not properly diagnosed, could lead to vascular thrombosis and consequent vascular access malfunction.
Here, we report a case of a 38-year-old patient, who underwent hemodialysis firstly by a CVC long-term into right jugular vein and then by a prosthetic fistula in the ipsilateral limb. The patient presented many episodes of vascular access thrombosis that required endovascular interventions. The ultrasound screening and CT-angiography revealed an asymptomatic stenosis of the superior cava vein, which treatment with the implantation of vascular stent resulted in an initial improvement of vascular access performance. However, in the following months, a restenosis was observed that required new interventions to reestablish a satisfactory vascular access function.
This case highlights that patients on hemodialysis should undergo proper clinical and instrumental follow-up in order to prevent or early recognize vascular access complications.

KEYWORDS: echocolordoppler, hemodialysis, vascular access, graft.

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Un accesso vascolare “ben funzionante” è un requisito indispensabile per una dialisi efficace ed efficiente; se da un lato, la fistola artero-venosa (FAV) nativa, dopo più di 50 anni dalla sua “creazione”, rimane sempre il miglior approccio a cui tendere, dall’altro l’uso dei cateteri venosi centrali (CVC) sta aumentando esponenzialmente, in tutti quei pazienti anziani, comorbidi e con un patrimonio vascolare eccessivamente compromesso per gli accessi vascolari.

A fronte di una facilità di utilizzo, i CVC presentano molteplici complicanze che incidono pesantemente sia sulla qualità di vita e sia sull’efficienza dialitica.

A riguardo, le linee guida K/DOQI consigliano e incentivano l’uso dell’ecografia per la pianificazione chirurgica di un accesso vascolare complesso come può esserlo l’impianto di un graft, per il quale è necessario un regolare follow-up ecografico al fine di garantirne il buon funzionamento nel lungo termine, con la possibilità di diagnosticare per tempo le “stenosi subcliniche”, che esiterebbero inevitabilmente in trombosi precoci.

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