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Abstract

Arteriovenous fistula (AVF) dysfunction remains a major contributor to the morbidity and mortality of hemodialysis patients. The failure of a newly created AVF to mature and development of stenosis in an established AVF are two common clinical predicaments. The goal is to identify a dysfunctional AVF early enough to intervene in a timely manner to either assist with the maturation process or to prevent thrombosis. The currently available tools in our armamentarium include clinical evaluation, physical examination of the AVF, and surveillance tests. Physical examination has been recognized as a simple and cost-effective tool, but is often not implemented either because of lack of training or time constraints. Surveillance tests include measurement of access flow or pressure as a surrogate marker of AVF dysfunction. Surveillance tests often require expensive equipment, additional personnel, and are controversial. Currently, there are guidelines and recommendations to include all of these measures while evaluating an AVF. Implementing judicious use of these tools in clinical practice can facilitate early diagnosis for timely intervention in the appropriate population. Furthermore, this strategy may avoid unnecessary interventions and assist with healthcare cost containment.