Vascular Access Practice Patterns in Canada: A National Survey
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Background: One of the mandates of the Canadian Society of Nephrology's (CSN) Vascular Access Working Group (VAWG) is to inform the nephrology community of the current status of vascular access (VA) practice within Canada. To better understand VA practice patterns across Canada, the CSN VAWG conducted a national survey. Objectives: (1) To inform on VA practice patterns, including fistula creation and maintenance, within Canada. (2) To determine the degree of consensus among Canadian clinicians regarding patient suitability for fistula creation and to assess barriers to and facilitators of fistula creation in Canada. Design: Development and implementation of a survey. Setting: Community and academic VA programs. Participants: Nephrologists, surgeons, and nurses who are involved in VA programs across Canada. Measurements: Practice patterns regarding access creation and maintenance, including indications and contraindications to fistula creation, as well as program-wide facilitators of and barriers to VA. Methods: A small group of CSN VAWG members determined the scope and created several VA questions which were then reviewed by 5 additional VAWG members (4 nephrologists and 1 VA nurse) to ensure that questions were clear and relevant. The survey was then tested by the remaining members of the VAWG and refinements were made. The final survey version was submitted electronically to relevant clinicians (nephrologists, surgeons, and nurses) involved or interested in VA across Canada. Questions centered around 4 major themes: (1) Practice patterns regarding access creation (preoperative assessment and maturation assessment), (2) Practice patterns regarding access maintenance (surveillance and salvage), (3) Indications and contraindications for arteriovenous (AV) access creation, and (4) Facilitators of and barriers to fistula creation and utilization. Results: Eighty-two percent (84 of 102) of invited participants completed the survey; the majority were nurses or VA coordinators (55%) with the remainder consisting of nephrologists (21%) and surgeons (20%). Variation in practice was noted in utility of preoperative Doppler ultrasound, interventions to assist nonmaturing fistulas, and procedures to salvage failing or thrombosed AV-access. Little consensus was seen regarding potential contraindications to AV-access creation (with the exception of limited life expectancy and poor vasculature on preoperative imaging, which had high agreement). Frequent barriers to fistula utilization were primary failure (77% of respondents) and long maturation times (73%). Respondents from centers with low fistula prevalence also cited long surgical wait times as an important barrier to fistula creation, whereas those from centers with high fistula prevalence cited access to multidisciplinary teams and interventional radiology as keys to successful fistula creation and utilization. Conclusions: There is significant variation in VA practice across Canada and little consensus among Canadian clinicians regarding contraindications to fistula creation. Further high-quality studies are needed with regard to appropriate fistula placement to help guide clinical practice.