American Journal of Kidney Diseases

Trends in US Vascular Access Use, Patient Preferences, and Related Practices: An Update From the US DOPPS Practice Monitor With International Comparisons

Published:February 06, 2015DOI:


      Since the bundled end-stage renal disease prospective payment system began in 2011 in the United States, some hemodialysis practices have changed substantially, raising the question of whether vascular access practice also has changed. We describe monthly US vascular access use from August 2010 to August 2013 with international comparisons, and other aspects of US vascular access practice.

      Study Design

      Prospective observational cohort study of vascular access.

      Setting & Participants

      Maintenance hemodialysis patients in the Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS) Practice Monitor (DPM) in the United States (N = 3,442; US patients) and 19 other nations (N = 8,478).


      Country, patient demographics, time period.


      Vascular access use, pre–end-stage renal disease access timing of first nephrologist care and arteriovenous access placement, patient self-reported vascular access preferences (United States only), treatment practices as stated by medical directors.


      In the United States from August 2010 to August 2013, arteriovenous fistula (AVF) use increased from 63% to 68%, while catheter use declined from 19% to 15%. Although AVF use did not differ greatly across age groups, arteriovenous graft use was 2-fold higher among black (26%) versus nonblack US patients (13%) in 2013. Across 20 countries in 2013, AVF use ranged from 49% to 92%, whereas catheter use ranged from 1% to 45%. Patient-reported vascular access preferences differed by sex and race, with 16% to 20% of patients feeling uninformed regarding benefits/risks of different vascular access types. Among new (incident) US hemodialysis patients, AVF use remains low, with ∼70% initiating hemodialysis therapy with a catheter (60% starting with catheter when having ≥4 months of predialysis nephrology care). In the United States, longer typical times to first AVF cannulation were reported.


      Noncompletion of surveys may affect the generalizability of findings to the wider hemodialysis population.


      AVF use has increased, with catheter use decreasing among prevalent US hemodialysis patients since the introduction of the prospective payment system. However, AVF use at dialysis therapy initiation remains low, suggesting that reforms affecting predialysis care may be necessary to incentivize improvements in fistula rates at dialysis therapy initiation as achieved for prevalent hemodialysis patients.

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