Reasons for long-term tunneled dialysis catheter use and associated morbidity

Victor Castro, Alik Farber, Yixin Zhang, Quinten Dicken, Logan Mendez, Scott R Levin, Thomas W Cheng, Rebecca B Hasley, Jeffrey J Siracuse
Journal of Vascular Surgery 2020 July 21

OBJECTIVE: Tunneled dialysis catheters (TDCs) are generally used as a temporary means to provide hemodialysis until permanent arteriovenous (AV) access is established. However, some patients may have long-term catheter-based hemodialysis because of the lack of alternatives for other dialysis access. Our objective was to evaluate characteristics of patients with, reasons for, and mortality associated with long-term TDC use.

METHODS: A retrospective single-institution analysis was performed. Long-term TDC use was defined as >180 days without more than a 7-day temporary removal time. Reasons for long-term TDC use and complications were recorded. Summary statistics were performed. Kaplan-Meier analysis compared mortality between patients with long-term TDC use and a comparison cohort who underwent AV access creation with subsequent TDC removal.

RESULTS: We identified 50 patients with long-term TDC use from 2013 to 2018. The average age was 63 years, 44% were male, and 76% were African American. Previous TDC use was found in 42% of patients with subsequent removal after alternative access was established. Median TDC duration was 333 days (range, 185-2029 days). The primary reasons for long-term TDC use were failed (occluded) AV access (34%), nonmaturing AV (nonoccluded) access (32%), delayed AV access placement (14%), no AV access options (10%), patient refusal for AV access placement (6%), and medically high risk for AV access placement (4%). In 46% of patients, TDC complications including central venous stenosis (33.4%), TDC-related infections (29.6%), TDC displacement (27.8%), and thrombosis (7.9%) occurred. Overall, 47.6% required a catheter exchange during the prolonged TDC period. The majority (76.4%) had the catheter removed because of established alternative access during follow-up. The long-term TDC group, in relation to the comparator group (n = 201), had fewer male patients (44% vs 61.2%; P = .028) and higher proportion of congestive heart failure (66% vs 40.3%; P = .001). Kaplan-Meier analysis showed no significant difference in survival at 24 months for the long-term TDC group compared with the comparator group (93.6% vs 92.7%; P = .28).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with long-term TDCs experienced significant TDC-related morbidity. Whereas permanent access is preferable, some patients may require long-term TDC use because of difficulty in establishing a permanent access, limited access options, and patient preference. There was no difference in survival between the groups.

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