A proportion of hemodialysis patients exhaust all options for arteriovenous access in upper extremities. Arteriovenous thigh grafts are a potential vascular access option in such patients.
We performed a retrospective study of all thigh arteriovenous access grafts placed between 1995 and 2015. The clinical, demographic patient information and patency of each thigh graft was determined from the time of surgical creation placement until abandonment, transfer to other modality, or center or end of study, and the reason for access failure documented.
In total, 44 patients received 49 thigh arteriovenous accesses. The average age was 60 years (13–79 years); Half (53%) of the patients (n = 24) were female and 61% of the patients (n = 30) of arteriovenous accesses were left-sided. The cumulative proportion surviving (primary patency rates) at 12, 24, and 28 months were 43% (standard error = 9%), 33% (standard error = 9%), and 13% (standard error = 9%), respectively. The cumulative proportion of surviving grafts at 12, 24, and 48 months were 61% (standard error = 8%), 58% (standard error = 9%), and 31% (standard error = 13%), respectively. In total, 37 revisions were performed in 22 patients to maintain patency or eradicate infection. Infection occurred in 20 patients (39%) of thigh grafts requiring 16 patients (80% of those affected) to be removed; 14 patients had grafts (33.3%) that served as the lone hemodialysis arteriovenous access during the patients’ lifetime on dialysis.
Arteriovenous thigh graft access is used infrequently, but they have an acceptable patency. Some accesses require revisions and they have a high infection rate. Despite this, an acceptable proportion of leg grafts provide durable access for the dialysis lifetime of the patient.