Using tunneled femoral vein catheters for "urgent start" dialysis patients: a preliminary report

Jay Hingwala, Cynthia Bhola, Charmaine E Lok
Journal of Vascular Access 2014, 15 Suppl 7: S101-8

BACKGROUND: Multiple benefits of arteriovenous fistulas (AVF) and arteriovenous grafts (AVGs) exist over catheters. As part of a strategy to preserve thoracic venous sites and reduce internal jugular (IJ) vein catheter use, we inserted tunneled femoral vein catheters in incident "urgent start" dialysis patients while facilitating a more appropriate definitive dialysis access.

METHODS: "Urgent start" dialysis patients between January 15, 2013 and January 15, 2014 who required chronic dialysis, and did not have prior modality and vascular access plans, had tunneled femoral vein catheters inserted. We determined the femoral vein catheter associated infections rates, thrombosis, and subsequent dialysis access. Eligible patients were surveyed on their femoral vein catheter experience.

RESULTS: Twenty-two femoral vein catheters were inserted without complications. Subsequently, one catheter required intraluminal thrombolytic locking, while all other catheters maintained blood flow greater than 300 ml/min. There were no catheter-related infections (exit site infection or bacteremia). Six patients continued to use their tunneled catheter at report end, one transitioned to peritoneal dialysis, thirteen to an arteriovenous graft, and two to a fistula. One patient received a tunneled IJ vein catheter. Of the patients who completed the vascular access survey, all indicated satisfaction with their access and that they had minimal complaints of bruising, bleeding, or swelling at their access sites. Pain/discomfort at the exit site was the primary complaint, but they did not find it interfered with activities of daily living.

CONCLUSIONS: Femoral vein tunneled catheters appear to be a safe, well tolerated, and effective temporary access in urgent start dialysis patients while they await more appropriate long-term access.

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