Dialysis access infections.
Infections and specifically infectious complications of vascular access remain a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the hemodialysis population. Primary arteriovenous fistulas have the lowest rates of infections and are the access of choice whenever vascular anatomy allows. The dialysis outcomes quality initiative (DOQI) guidelines have thus stressed the need for increasing the utilization of arteriovenous fistulas. Unfortunately, comorbid disease processes and late referrals for vascular access have maintained our dependence on synthetic grafts and indwelling catheters. Indwelling catheters, in particular, have the highest rate of infection and are often associated with more serious metastatic complications. Appropriate antibiotics along with aggressive surgical debridement remain crucial in bacteremia occurring in arteriovenous fistulas or synthetic grafts (polytetrafluoroethylene). Catheter related bacteremia necessitates catheter removal with either guidewire exchange or replacement after a period of antibiotic therapy. Measures to increase our utilization of primary fistulas whenever possible will lower the risk of these complications in our patients.
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