Vascular access is the lifeline for hemodialysis patients. Autologous artero-venous fistula (AVF) is still the most popular vascular access for hemodialysis even if declining during the last decades. Compared to central venous catheters and vascular grafts, AVF is characterized by a lower risk of infection and lower number of hospitalizations, and by a better quality of life, higher dialysis efficiency, and more prolonged life expectancy for patients. Since the year 1966 when the two surgeons Cimino and Brescia had the idea of connecting the forearm vein and artery for chronic dialysis, several data have accumulated on surgical procedures, positioning of AVF (distal vs proximal), time for the first use, monitoring and surveilling.
All guidelines suggest that special care should be given by monitoring and surveilling AVF to avoid its failure or fatal closing. Attention should be paid to the patient’s vasculature before surgery, through the “maturation” phase and chronic use. Indeed, AVF requires constant and careful care. The crucial role is played by the patient itself in cooperation with devoted clinical staff participated by skilled nurses, nephrologists, surgeons, radiologists, and sonographers.
Literature on AVF is evaluated and guidelines suggestions reported as well as the data attained by the Accesso Vascolare per Emodialisi (AVE) project. This project aimed to evaluate the benefits of monitoring and surveilling, operated by a multidisciplinary team on dialysis adequacy, AVF longevity, and patient’s mortality.
Keywords: artero-venous fistula, dialysis, mortality, monitoring, surveilling