Study protocol of a randomized controlled trial of fistula vs. graft arteriovenous vascular access in older adults with end-stage kidney disease on hemodialysis: the AV access trial

Mariana Murea, Ali I. Gardezi, Mathew P. Goldman, Caitlin W. Hicks, Timmy Lee, John P. Middleton, Roman Shingarev, Tushar J. Vachharajani, Karen Woo, Lama M. Abdelnour, Kyla M. Bennett, Duvuru Geetha, Lee Kirksey, Kevin W. Southerland, Carlton J. Young, William M. Brown, Judy Bahnson, Haiying Chen, Michael Allon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Treatment of end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) with hemodialysis requires surgical creation of an arteriovenous (AV) vascular access—fistula (AVF) or graft (AVG)—to avoid (or limit) the use of a central venous catheter (CVC). AVFs have long been considered the first-line vascular access option, with AVGs as second best. Recent studies have suggested that, in older adults, AVGs may be a better strategy than AVFs. Lacking evidence from well-powered randomized clinical trials, integration of these results into clinical decision making is challenging. The main objective of the AV Access Study is to compare, between the two types of AV access, clinical outcomes that are important to patients, physicians, and policy makers. Methods: This is a prospective, multicenter, randomized controlled trial in adults ≥ 60 years old receiving chronic hemodialysis via a CVC. Eligible participants must have co-existing cardiovascular disease, peripheral arterial disease, and/or diabetes mellitus; and vascular anatomy suitable for placement of either type of AV access. Participants are randomized, in a 1:1 ratio, to a strategy of AVG or AVF creation. An estimated 262 participants will be recruited across 7 healthcare systems, with average follow-up of 2 years. Questionnaires will be administered at baseline and semi-annually. The primary outcome is the rate of CVC-free days per 100 patient-days. The primary safety outcome is the cumulative incidence of vascular access (CVC or AV access)-related severe infections—defined as access infections that lead to hospitalization or death. Secondary outcomes include access-related healthcare costs and patients’ experiences with vascular access care between the two treatment groups. Discussion: In the absence of studies using robust and unbiased research methodology to address vascular access care for hemodialysis patients, clinical decisions are limited to inferences from observational studies. The goal of the AV Access Study is to generate evidence to optimize vascular access care, based on objective, age-specific criteria, while incorporating goals of care and patient preference for vascular access type in clinical decision-making. Trial registration: : This study is being conducted in accordance with the tenets of the Helsinki Declaration, and has been approved by the central institutional review board (IRB) of Wake Forest University Health Sciences (approval number: 00069593) and local IRB of each participating clinical center; and was registered on Nov 27, 2020, at (NCT04646226).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number43
JournalBMC nephrology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Arteriovenous access
  • Fistula
  • Graft
  • Hemodialysis
  • Older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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