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Retrograde Angiography and the Risk of Arteriovenous Fistula Perforation


Address correspondance to: Arif Asif, MD, Professor of Medicine, Director, Interventional Nephrology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, 1600 NW 10th Ave (R 7168), Miami, FL, or e-mail:


Assessment of the inflow segment of an arteriovenous fistula is mandatory for optimum access evaluation. Retrograde angiography (RA) is routinely used to image this region of the access system. Traditionally, RA is performed by manually occluding the outflow track of an arteriovenous fistula (AVF) and forcing the radiocontrast into the inflow segment against arterial pressure. While this technique is largely successful in visualizing the juxta-anastomotic region, anastomosis and a portion of the feeding artery, the approach carries a potential risk of vascular rupture between the occluded portion of the fistula and the anastomosis. This article presents six cases of fistulas that suffered vascular rupture during RA. In three cases, vascular damage occurred prior to the application of angioplasty. The remaining cases suffered perforation after angioplasty. Balloon tamponade was successful in salvaging two fistulas. Another AVF with a perforation did not require any intervention to maintain flow. The complication was successfully managed in one AVF by the insertion of an endovascular stent graft. Two fistulas were lost due to vascular damage. This report demonstrates that RA performed by occluding the outflow track of an AVF to assess the results of angioplasty of an inflow stenosis can result in vascular rupture. There is a risk of such adversity even before the application of angioplasty in this region. It is suggested that the first of these be avoided and the latter be done with care.

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