Ethnic differences in arm vein diameter and arteriovenous fistula creation rates in men undergoing hemodialysis access

Brandon Ishaque, Mohamed A. Zayed, Jessica Miller, David Nguyen, Amy H. Kaji, Jason T. Lee, Jessica O'Connell, Christian De Virgilio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective: The National Kidney Foundation recommends that arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) be placed in at least 65% of hemodialysis patients. Some studies suggest that African American patients are less likely to receive a first-time AVF than patients of other ethnicities, although the reason for this disparity is unclear. The purpose of our study is to determine (1) whether there are ethnic differences in AVF creation, (2) whether this may be related to differences in vein diameters, and (3) whether AVF patency rates are similar between African American and non-African American male patients. Methods: Consecutive male patients undergoing first-time hemodialysis access from 2006 to 2010 at two institutions were retrospectively reviewed. Data collected included age, ethnicity, weight, height, body mass index, diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure, smoking history, intravenous drug abuse, need for temporary access placement, and preoperative venous ultrasound measurements. Categoric variables were compared using χ 2 analysis, and the Wilcoxon rank-sum test was used to compare continuous variables. Results: Of 249 male patients identified, 95 were African American. Median age in African American and non-African American patients was 63 years. Hypertension and hyperlipidemia were statistically significantly greater in African American patients. The need for temporary access before hemoaccess was similar between the cohorts. African American patients demonstrated significantly smaller median basilic and cephalic vein diameters at most measured sites. Overall, 221 of 249 (88.8%) underwent AVF first. An AV graft was created in 17.9% of African American patients vs in only 7.1% of non-African Americans (odds ratio, 2.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.3-6.4; P =.009). The difference between median vein diameters used for autologous fistula creation in African American and non-African American patients was not significant. There was no significant difference in the primary patency (80.8% vs 76.2%; P =.4), primary functional patency (73.1% vs 69.2%; P =.5), or secondary functional patency rates (91.0% vs 96.5%; P =.1). Average primary fistula survival time was 257 days in African American and 256 in non-African American patients (P =.2). Conclusions: African American patients are less likely than non-African American patients to undergo AVF during first-time hemodialysis access surgery. This ethnic discrepancy appears to be due to smaller arm vein diameters in African American patients. In African American patients with appropriate vein diameters who do undergo AVF, primary and functional patencies are equivalent to non-African American patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-432
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2012


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