Register for citation alerts

Vascular Access Conversation - IVUPDATE Podcast from IVTEAM

Central venous catheters versus arteriovenous fistulae


Background: Arteriovenous fistulae (AVF) have superior clinical outcomes compared with central venous catheters (CVC) among patients undergoing hemodialysis (HD). Yet, there is increasing recognition that health-related quality of life (HRQoL) may be more important to patients than survival and that differences may exist between AVF and CVCs in this regard. This study compared HRQoL between AVF and CVC in an Irish cohort.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey among prevalent patients undergoing hemodialysis (N=119) dialyzing with either an AVF or CVC at a regional program. The Short Form 36 (SF-36) and a validated Vascular Access Questionnaire (SF-VAQ) compared QoL between AVF and CVC in domains of physical functioning, social functioning, and dialysis complications. Multivariable logistic regression compared differences between groups for outcomes of physical functioning, social functioning, and dialysis complications expressed as adjusted odds ratios and 95% CI.

Results: Mean age was 66.6 years; 52% were using an AVF and 48% had a CVC. Patients dialyzing with an AVF were more satisfied with their access when asked directly (6.2 versus 5.0; P<0.01). Physical functioning scores for bleeding, swelling, and bruising were significantly higher for AVF than CVC (P=0.001, P=0.001, and P<0.001, respectively). In contrast, patients with a CVC reported greater difficulties in bathing and showering than those using an AVF (4.4 versus 2.0; P<0.001), whereas patients with an AVF expressed greater concerns with physical appearances. Compared with AVF, CVC users were less likely to report difficulties in physical functioning (OR=0.35; 95% CI, 0.12 to 0.94; P=0.04) but more likely to report dialysis complications (OR=1.94; 95% CI, 0.69 to 5.87; P=0.22).

Conclusions: Vascular access contributes to HRQoL in hemodialysis. CVCs are associated with fewer difficulties from bleeding and bruising but greater negative effect on social activities, including bathing and showering. Overall, patients with a CVC had lower dissatisfaction scores than patients with an AVF when all three domains were added. Innovation in vascular access design and engineering may confer benefits and improve patient comfort on HD.


Maguire IC, Browne LD, Dawood M, Leahy F, Ryan MC, White E, O’Sullivan A, O’Sullivan L, Stack AG. Differential Impact of Central Venous Catheters versus Arteriovenous Fistulae on Quality of Life among Irish Haemodialysis Patients. Kidney360. 2022 Mar 4;3(6):1065-1072. doi: 10.34067/KID.0006622021. PMID: 35845328; PMCID: PMC9255886.