JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Salvaging prosthetic dialysis fistulas with stents: forearm versus upper arm grafts.

OBJECTIVE: We compared results of angioplasty with those of concomitant stent placement to treat thrombosed forearm hemodialysis grafts with results for upper arm grafts.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Between October 1998 and July 2002, stents were deployed in 61 patients undergoing balloon angioplasty because of venous anastomotic stenosis causing graft thrombosis. Stents were used only in cases of inadequate angioplasty results. Twenty-three forearm grafts and 38 upper arm grafts were treated. All procedures were performed in an endovascular operating suite, with fistulography. Primary and secondary patency rates were analyzed and compared for graft location with the life table method.

RESULTS: Grafts had undergone a mean of 1.56 previous revisions because of thrombosis (forearm: 1.52, upper arm: 1.58; P = NS). Excluding early thrombosis, a single graft infection was the only procedural complication. Cumulative primary patency rate at 3, 6, and 12 months (from stent placement) was 36.4%, 15.6%, and 0%, respectively, for forearm grafts, which was inferior to the 59.5%, 34.0%, and 17.0% primary patency rate observed for upper arm grafts (P =.0307) Secondary patency rate was 40.9%, 40.9%, and 30.7%, respectively, for forearm grafts, and 64.9%, 42.3%, and 19.7% for upper arm grafts (P = NS).

CONCLUSION: Stent deployment can salvage thrombosed dialysis grafts. However, sustained patency occurs infrequently, with better results for upper arm grafts than for forearm grafts. Inasmuch as surgical revision of forearm grafts is usually straightforward, stenting should be reserved for use in high axillary grafts and other sites where surgical repair is difficult.

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