Background Arteriovenous fistulas (AVFs) are recommended for hemodialysis access when possible. A noncannulatable but otherwise well functioning AVF leads to prolonged catheter dependency and frustration for the patient and the renal health care provider team. Difficult cannulation patients include obese individuals in whom cannulation sites are too deep, and others with vein segments that are short, tortuous, or otherwise difficult to palpate. The Venous Window Needle Guide for Salvage of AV Fistulae (SAVE) trial was designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the Venous Window Needle Guide (VWING; Vital Access Corp, Salt Lake City, Utah) device for salvage of such noncannulatable AVFs that are otherwise functional
Methods The SAVE study included patients with an established and otherwise mature AVF, in whom an additional procedure would otherwise be necessary to establish reliable cannulation. The VWING is a single-piece titanium device that allows repeated access of an AVF through a single puncture site (buttonhole technique). Inclusion criteria included mature AVFs 6.0 to 15.0 mm in depth with multiple failed attempts at cannulation or where the access could not be palpated. The devices were implanted subcutaneously and sutured to the anterior wall of the mature fistula. Study end points were reliable and successful cannulation and avoidance of adverse events during the 6-month follow-up, implant technical success, and clinical cannulation success
Results Enrollment included 54 patients at 11 trial sites with implantation of 82 VWING devices. Body mass index was 26 to 50 (median, 36), 40 (74%) patients were female, and age was 17 to 84 (median, 59) years. Forty (74%) individuals were diabetic. Thirty-three (61%) patients were white, 16 (30%) black, and 10 (18%) patients were Hispanic, Pacific Islander, or Native American. Three patients were excluded from data analysis for reasons unrelated to the device. Successful AVF access was achieved using the VWING in 49 (96%) of the 51 patients evaluated. The rate of device-related serious adverse events was 0.31 per patient-year; each event was resolved leaving the AVF functional. The rates of sepsis and study-related interventions were 0.04 and 0.65 per patient-year, respectively. There were no study-related deaths. One device was removed because of infection. The AVF survival rate at 6 months was 100%. The total number of study days was 9497 and the estimated number of device cannulations was 4238.
Conclusions The VWING was safe and effective in facilitating AVF cannulation for patients with an otherwise mature but noncannulatable fistula. Successful AVF access was achieved using the VWING in 49 (96%) of the 51 patients evaluated. The AVF survival rate at 6 months was 100%.