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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 66-71

A prospective observational study to evaluate utility of USG (ultrasound)-guided arteriovenous fistuloplasty in our institute

Department of Vascular and Endovascular Sciences, Medanta the Medicity, Gurgaon, Haryana, India

Date of Submission04-Nov-2020
Date of Acceptance07-Dec-2020
Date of Web Publication20-Feb-2021

Correspondence Address:
Shrikant Pandurang Ghanwat
Department of Vascular and Endovascular Sciences, Medanta the Medicity, Gurgaon, Haryana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijves.ijves_145_20

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Introduction: In chronic kidney disease patients, arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is now increasingly and widely accepted as a vascular access for long-term hemodialysis, so their surveillance and maintenance is of paramount importance. In endovascular procedures, fistulogram and fistuloplasty are being most commonly used for the treatment of malfunctioning AVFs, however, Ultrasound-guided fistuloplasty also now has been established, so here we had evaluated its utility in our institute. Materials and Methods: A prospective, observational study of 67 patients who underwent? USG (ultrasound)-guided fistuloplasty in failing AVF was conducted from April 2019 to April 2020. The outcome of USG-guided fistuloplasty was assessed in terms of technical success rate using Doppler-derived volume flow (VF) criteria, complications, and primary patency at the end of 6 months. Observation and Results: Post fistuloplasty, all our cases showed a 100% procedural and clinical success rate with a significant increase in VF. Mean preprocedure volume flow (VF) was 160 ml / min +/- 47 standard deviation (SD) increased to mean post procedue VF of 399 ml/min +/- 102 SD. The most common complication noted was fistuloplasty site hematoma. Complications were fewer and managed using ultrasound. The primary patency at the end of 1, 3, and 6 months was 100%, 88.1%, and 77.6%, respectively. Conclusion: Ultrasound-guided fistuloplasty is a safe and effective treatment option with low morbidity rates for the treatment of failing AVF. This technique is safe, feasible, and reliable as it facilitates to reduce intervention time and achieve better results so should be used more frequently and effectively. Doppler-derived VF is a very useful and remarkable criterion to assess technical outcome.

Keywords: Arteriovenous fistula, fistuloplasty, ultrasound guided, volume flow

How to cite this article:
Ghanwat SP, Yeramsetti S, Sahu T, Sheorain V, Grover T, Parakh R. A prospective observational study to evaluate utility of USG (ultrasound)-guided arteriovenous fistuloplasty in our institute. Indian J Vasc Endovasc Surg 2021;8:66-71

How to cite this URL:
Ghanwat SP, Yeramsetti S, Sahu T, Sheorain V, Grover T, Parakh R. A prospective observational study to evaluate utility of USG (ultrasound)-guided arteriovenous fistuloplasty in our institute. Indian J Vasc Endovasc Surg [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Mar 1];8:66-71. Available from:

  Introduction Top

End-stage renal disease population is on the rising trend, and chronic kidney disease (CKD) is increasingly being recognized as a global public health problem. The United States has seen a 30% increase in the prevalence of CKD in the last decade.[1] Now, diabetes mellitus and hypertension are the leading causes of chronic renal failure (CRF). Today, in India, diabetes and hypertension account for 40%–60% of CKD cases.[2]

Earlier, the focus in CRF was to treat a terminally ill patient, now which has been changed to dealing with a person with a manageable chronic disease that requires long-term hemodialysis. The changes in focus are the result of the technical advances in dialysis and improved surgical techniques. The National Kidney Foundation issued the Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative Clinical Practice Guidelines for vascular access which emphasized that vascular access patency and adequate hemodialysis are essential to the optimal management of patients with CKD Stage 5.[3]

Stenosis is the most common problem with the arteriovenous fistula (AVF), which leads to a problematic fistula with inadequate dialysis or can precipitate fistula occlusion. Hence, surveillance is of paramount importance for longevity of AVF.[4] These lesions can be managed by surgical revision or endovascular intervention (fistuloplasty) of AVF. Endovascular interventions are widely being performed for immature and malfunctioning AVF using contrast medium and fluoroscopy.

Recently, we have observed an increasing role of ultrasonography (USG) in imaging of AVF. Superficial location of AVF allows for simple and reliable visualization of vessels, guidewire, catheter, balloon, etc., with significant technical advantages including the ability to directly visualize puncture sites, stenosis, thrombus, spasm, and extravascular flow in real time.[5] The use of Doppler ultrasound allows the identification of more than 50% AVF stenosis with 92% sensitivity and 84% specificity.[6]

Recent studies[7],[8],[9] showed that ultrasound-guided percutaneous transluminal angioplasty can be performed under only sonographic guidance without using a fluoroscopic machine and it is as effective as conventional percutaneous transluminal angioplasty.

Motive and objectives of the current study

Since more than a decade of described ultrasound-guided angioplasty, many small series have been published till date, but most of them studied small number population or without any definitive applicable criteria for technical success, while some used fluoroscopic assistance to access success and manage complications. To overcome these limitations and further evaluate the utility of ultrasound, we had taken Doppler-derived volume flow (VF) criteria to assess technical outcome. Ultrasound utility also expanded with its use for preoperative planning access, balloon sizing, and intraoperative management of complications.

As required equipment along with ultrasound machine are readily available, over the last few years, we have adopted ultrasound-guided fistuloplasty as our primary modality for failing AVFs without central venous stenosis. Hence, here we had conducted a study on CKD patients with malfunctioning AVFs, who have undergone fistuloplasty under USG guidance with respect to its technical success rate using VF criteria, complications, and patency rate.

  Materials and Methods Top

Inclusion criteria

  • Nonmaturing arteriovenous (AV) access
  • Dampened thrill or pulsatile flow on clinical examination
  • Flow disturbance picked up by dialysis technician

    1. Blood flow <400 ml/min
    2. High venous pressures (>200 mm hg) during dialysis

  • VF <250 ml/min and stenosis (>50%) of AV access on ultrasound examination.

Exclusion criteria

  • Thrombosed or completely occluded fistula or outflow vein
  • Suspected central vein stenosis – arm swelling or Doppler-detected suspicion of the same.



  • Portable ultrasound machine
  • Access needle and sheath (5–11 Fr)
  • Catheters (multipurpose and support)
  • Guidewires – 0.035”–0.014” (regular, stiff, j-tip, straight)
  • Angioplasty balloons (5–8 mm size, normal and high pressure).

Procedure details

  • After informed valid consent, all procedures were performed by the same team
  • The procedure was performed under local anesthesia
  • Position: Supine with arm abducted 60°–90° [Figure 1]
  • Cleaning and draping was done keeping the entire upper limb sterile which includes AVF side-hand, arm, shoulder, axilla, and the same side of the chest with neck. Ultrasound probe was covered with a sterile camera/protection cover
  • Duplex ultrasound evaluation was performed, preoperative VF was recorded [Figure 2], and stenosis was defined [Figure 3]
  • Under all aseptic precautions and USG guidance, either antegrade/retrograde arterial or outflow vein access was taken based on the location of stenosis and extent of stenosis
  • Sheath was placed and 40–50 Units/kg heparin was given through sheath
  • The stenosis was negotiated with a 0.035/0.014-in. hydrophilic-coated guidewire and a diagnostic catheter, followed by the balloon catheter passed over the guidewire
  • The size of the balloon was chosen depending on the diameter of the normal vessel adjacent to the area to be dilated (balloons were arranged on the basis of preoperative duplex evaluation)
  • The balloon sizes used in our study ranged from 5 to 8 mm, with 6 mm balloon being the most commonly used size. Normal and/or high-pressure balloons were used depending on the degree of stenosis
  • Under pressure control, the balloon was inflated, waist was noted on ultrasound [Figure 4], and pressure was increased slowly until the waist disappeared [Figure 5]
  • Duplex ultrasound confirmation of widely opened stenotic lesion and continuous segment of dilated vein with VF >250 ml/min signified the end point of procedure
  • Postoperative VF was recorded [Figure 6] for each procedure on duplex ultrasound
  • Access site hemostasis was achieved with manual compression.
Figure 1: Position of patient

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Figure 2: Preoperative Doppler-derived volume flow

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Figure 3: Stenosis on ultrasound

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Figure 4: Balloon angioplasty showing waist on ultrasound

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Figure 5: Disappeared waist seen on ultrasound

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Figure 6: Post fistuloplasty volume flow measured using duplex ultrasound

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Data collection and statistical methods

  • Patient demographic data were recorded. Data regarding associated comorbid illnesses were collected
  • Duplex ultrasound was performed for evaluation of fistula for need of intervention. Pre- and postoperative VF and residual stenosis were recorded for each procedure. On follow-up, patency of target lesion and complications were evaluated
  • Quantitative data were presented in terms of means and standard deviation. Qualitative/categorical data were presented as absolute numbers and percentage/proportions. Cross table was generated, and the paired Student t-test was used for testing mean value between preprocedure VF (Mean Pre VF) and postprocedure VF (Mean Post VF). P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. SPSS software version 24.0 (SPSS-Statistical Package for the Social Sciences System Version 24 (IBM SPSS For Windows, Version 24.0; Armonk, NY: IBM Corp.) was used for statistical analysis.

  Results Top

Patient demographics

Age and sex distribution

We observed that majority of the patients were between 61 and 70 years of age –23 patients which accounted for 34.3% of cases. The mean age was 61.99 years ± 11.988 SD, with 62.69% of the patients being males (42).

Associated comorbidities/risk factors

All 67 patients showed one or more associated comorbidity/ies. Hypertension was the highest associated comorbidity being prevalent in 61 out of 67 cases studied which accounted for 91%. The second most common was diabetes mellitus which was seen in 48 (71.6%) cases. Dyslipidemia was associated in 42 (62.7%) cases. CAD and smoking were observed in 23 (34.3%) and 13 (19.4%) cases, respectively [Figure 7].
Figure 7: Associated comorbidities or risk factors

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Distribution of fistula

Most of the fistulas requiring plasty were brachiocephalic (BC) fistula (55.2%, i.e., 37 cases), and 30 patients had radiocephalic (RC) fistulas [Figure 8].
Figure 8: Distribution of fistula

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Location of lesion

64.2% of the patients (43 cases) had juxta-anastomotic lesion, i.e., within 3 cm of anastomotic site. 31.3% (21) of the patients had lesion in the outflow vein (V) (beyond 3 cm from the site of anastomosis), while 4.5% (3) of the patients had lesion at both juxta-anastomotic site and outflow vein site (JXA + V) [Figure 9].
Figure 9: Distribution of lesion

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Volume flow

Pre- and postprocedure VF was measured for each patient using ultrasound. Mean Pre VF was found to be 160 ml/min with SD of 47, while Mean Post VF was 399 ml/min with SD of 102 [Figure 10].
Figure 10: Mean volume flows

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Success rates

100% technical and clinical success was noted.


In this study, the most common complication noted was fistuloplasty site hematoma, which was observed in 5 (7.5%) patients out of 67. Access site hematoma and acute intraluminal thrombotic occlusion were noted in 3% (2) patients each, while rupture/pseudoaneurysm was noted in 1 patient account for 1.5%. Fifty-seven (85%) patients had no procedural complications [Figure 11].
Figure 11: Complications

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The primary patency rate is shown in [Table 1] and [Figure 12].
Table 1: Primary patency rate

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Figure 12: Patency rate

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  Discussion with Review of Literature Top

This is a prospective observational study of 67 patients who underwent ultrasound-guided fistuloplasty for A-V fistula salvage.

In our study, the mean age was 61.99 years ± 11.99 SD with a male preponderance. Regarding concomitant comorbidities, hypertension and diabetes mellitus were most common, followed by dyslipidemia and smoking. Their values are consistent with several studies done on CKD patients in the past. These results of our study are comparable with a study done by Ascher et al. in which the mean age was 65.1 years ± 9.11 SD; 14 out of 25 patients (56%) were male while hypertension was seen in all patients (100%), diabetes in 15 patients (60%), coronary artery disease in 8 patients (32%), and history of smoking in 7 patients (28%).[10]

We found that the occurrence of juxta-anastomotic stenotic lesions was more than outflow vein lesions. This might be because flow dynamics that most commonly affect the swing segment of AVF. These findings are consistent with many studies. Cho et al. in their study of 53 cases reported that 75.5%, i.e., 40 cases, had juxta-anastomotic stenosis and 24.5%, i.e., 13 cases, had outflow vein stenosis while 31 (58.5) patients had RC fistula, 17 (32.1%) had BC fistula, and 1 patient had basilic vein transposition.[11]

A prospective study done by Kamper and Haage noted 63.9% juxta anastomotic, 55.8% outflow vein, 8.4% central venous, and 5.1% arterial inflow stenosis.[12]

A comparison between Mean Pre VF and Mean Post VF demonstrated an increase in VF by 149%, which was statistically significant with P < 0.0001. Considering median value, the median preprocedure VF was 168 ml/min. The median final VF was increased to 382 ml/min. The VF increased by 127% post fistuloplasty. Our results are comparable with a study done by Kim and Cho.[13] In a study done by Fox et al. for all interventions, the VF increased by 95%, while for immature autogenous AV access, VF increased by 131% post intervention.[14] Marks et al. also reported a significant increase in VF[15] [Table 2].
Table 2: Clinical reports of studies done using volume flow criteria for duplex.guided arteriovenous access interventions

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In our study, we were able to achieve 100% procedural and clinical success in the form of significant increase in VF + <30% residual stenosis on duplex scan and palpable thrill at the end of the procedure, respectively. Technical success overall appears to be excellent and is consistent across the reported series [Table 2]. The principal technical endpoint reported was an increase in VF. Fox et al. in their study reported technical success in 219 out of 223 interventions, i.e., 98.2%.[14]

As we used ultrasound for access, vascular access site-related complications were less frequent. Fisuloplasty site hematoma was the most common complication. Both fistuloplasty and access site hematomas were nonexpanding and were managed conservatively, and they regressed over a period of 3–5 days. Tiny rupture/pseudoaneurysm in one patient was managed by direct pressure and balloon occlusion. Two cases (3%) had acute thrombotic occlusion at access and plasty site which was managed by giving additional heparin, thromboaspiration using Indigo CAT8 device (penumbra system) and over-the-wire Fogarty's catheter. Both were managed successfully using ultrasound although angiographic machine was always kept on standby.

A case series by Fox et al. involving 223 procedures reported minor complications in 17 cases (7.6%) and major complications in 2 cases (.89%). Intraluminal thrombus was seen in 8 cases managed by additional heparin and maceration thrombectomy, angioplasty site rupture in 3 cases, small introducer site pseudoaneurysm in 4 cases, and access-related complications in 2 cases.[14] Leskovar et al. in their study noted that the complication rate was 5.7%, in which the main complications were venous rupture (3.5%) followed by postprocedural thrombosis (1%), pseudoaneurysm at puncture site (0.5%), and balloon rupture with conversion to surgical procedure (0.5%),[16] while Aurshina et al. recently (2018) studied the effectiveness of percutaneous transluminal angioplasty for salvage of acute AVF occlusion in a series of 14 patients who underwent 18 procedures. The success rate was 72%. In 14 cases (78%), full restoration of fistula flow was established.[17] The quality improvement guidelines recommend <4% of vessel rupture during angioplasty.[18] In our study, we observed it in 1.5% of cases, which is far better compared to other studies. Our primary patency rates were also comparable to international studies done worldwide [Table 2].

In our study, 10 patients were lost to follow-up and 2 patients expired before the 6 months follow-up period due to unrelated cause. Hence, these 12 patients were not included in the final study population.

  Conclusion Top

Ultrasound-guided fistuloplasty for AVF salvage is a safe and effective way of endovascular management as superficial location of AV access facilitates duplex scan visualization while careful ultrasound examination allows to recognize early stenosis, prompt treatment, and reduce vascular access loss which is crucial in CKD patients. Precise preoperative planning can be done including size of balloon, access, etc.

Duplex-derived VF can be effectively used as objective criteria for technical success of USG-guided fistuloplasty without any extra efforts or investigation modality which expands its further utility.

Intraoperative ultrasound use facilitates in managing complications, reducing intervention time, and achieving better results. This technique is feasible and reliable and hence should be used more frequently and effectively.

It offers many advantages over conventional fluoroscopic/angiographic interventions which include the absence of radiation exposure and lack of nephrotoxic contrast use.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Coresh J, Selvin E, Stevens LA, Manzi J, Kusek JW, Eggers P, et al. Prevalence of chronic kidney disease in the united states. JAMA 2007;298:2038-47.  Back to cited text no. 1
Rajapurkar MM, John GT, Kirpalani AL, Abraham G, Agarwal SK, Almeida AF, et al. What do we know about chronic kidney disease in India: First report of the Indian CKD registry. BMC Nephrol 2012;13:10.  Back to cited text no. 2
Allon M. Current management of vascular access. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2007;2:786-800.  Back to cited text no. 3
Allon M, Robbin ML. Increasing arteriovenous fistulas in hemodialysis patients: Problems and solutions. Kidney Int 2002;62:1109-24.  Back to cited text no. 4
Wang J, Blebea J, Kennedy T, Salvatore M, Kelly P. Technical aspects of duplex ultrasound guided angioplasty of arteriovenous fistulae. J Vasc Ultrasound 2009;33:150-4.  Back to cited text no. 5
Tordoir JH, de Bruin HG, Hoeneveld H, Eikelboom BC, Kitslaar PJ. Duplex ultrasound scanning in the assessment of arteriovenous fistulas created for hemodialysis access: Comparison with digital subtraction angiography. J Vasc Surg 1989;10:122-8.  Back to cited text no. 6
Wakabayashi M, Hanada S, Nakano H, Wakabayashi T. Ultrasound-guided endovascular treatment for vascular access malfunction: Results in 4896 cases. J Vasc Access 2013;14:225-30.  Back to cited text no. 7
Gorin DR, Perrino L, Potter DM, Ali TZ. Ultrasound-guided angioplasty of autologues arteriovenous fistulas in the office setting. J Vasc Surg 2012;55:1701-5.  Back to cited text no. 8
Gallagher JJ, Boniscavage P, Ascher E, Hingorani A, Marks N, Shiferson A, et al. Clinical experience with office-based duplex-guided balloon-assisted maturation of arteriovenous fistulas for hemodialysis. Ann Vasc Surg 2012;26:982-4.  Back to cited text no. 9
Ascher E, Hingorani A, Marks N. Duplex-guided balloon angioplasty of failing or nonmaturing arterio-venous fistulae for hemodialysis: A new office-based procedure. J Vasc Surg 2009;50:594-9.  Back to cited text no. 10
Cho S, Lee YJ, Kim SR. Clinical experience with ultrasound guided angioplasty for vascular access. Kidney Res Clin Pract 2017;36:79-85.  Back to cited text no. 11
Kamper L, Haage P. Endovascular treatment to boost AV fistula maturation. J Vasc Access 2017;18:8-15.  Back to cited text no. 12
Kim JC, Cho JS. Ultrasonography-guided balloon angioplasty in an autogenous arteriovenous fistula. J Korean Soc Ultrasound Med 2007;26:129-36.  Back to cited text no. 13
Fox D, Amador F, Clarke D, Velez M, Cruz J, Labropoulos N, et al. Duplex guided dialysis access interventions can be performed safely in the office setting: Techniques and early results. Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg 2011;42:833-41.  Back to cited text no. 14
Marks N, Ascher E, Hingorani AP. Duplex-guided repair of failing or nonmaturing arterio-venous access for hemodialysis. Perspect Vasc Surg Endovasc Ther 2007;19:50-5.  Back to cited text no. 15
Leskovar B, Furlan T, Poznic S, Potisek M, Adamlje A, Kljucevšek T, et al. Ultrasound-guided percutaneous endovascular treatment of arteriovenous fistula/graft. Clin Nephrol 2017;88:61-4.  Back to cited text no. 16
Aurshina A, Ascher E, Hingorani A, Marks N. A novel technique for duplex-guided office based-interventions for patients with acute arteriovenous fistula occlusion. J Vasc Surg 2018;67:857-9.  Back to cited text no. 17
Dariushnia SR, Walker TG, Silberzweig JE, Anamalai G, Krishnamurthy V, Mitchell JW, et al. Quality improvement guidelines for percutaneous image-guided management of thrombosed or dysfunctional dialysis circuit. J Vasc Interv Radiol 2016;27:1518-30.  Back to cited text no. 18


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8], [Figure 9], [Figure 10], [Figure 11], [Figure 12]

  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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