Even after adjusting for comorbidities, the outcomes in hemodialysis (HD) patients using a central venous catheter (CVC) as dialysis access are worse than in those with a permanent vascular access. In spite of this, nationwide data suggest that only about 25% of incident HD patients initiate dialysis with an arteriovenous fistula. We conducted a retrospective study to identify reasons and resolution strategies for CVC use in patients who initiated HD at an academic medical center with a well-established chronic kidney disease (CKD) clinic and a dedicated vascular surgeon. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) loss over time to record progression of patients to HD was also examined. The charts of 170 consecutive patients were reviewed. Ninety-two percent were found to initiate HD using a CVC. Three factors explained 93% of all CVC in our cohort: absence of adequate predialysis care (45%), acute illness with failure to recover from an episode of acute renal failure (31%), and patient's failure to adhere to scheduled clinic or surgical appointments (17%). In addition, analyses of eGFR suggest that the velocity of GFR loss rather than a defined degree of renal function might be a better trigger for vascular access referral. We conclude that early referral, a close follow up of CKD patients who initiate dialysis due to acute illness, and patient education may have a positive impact to counteract overutilization of CVCs for dialysis. The rate in eGFR decline might also be used to calculate the referral time adequate for fistula creation.
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