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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2005 Jan;16(1):201-9. Epub 2004 Nov 24.

Establishment and maintenance of vascular access in incident hemodialysis patients: a prospective cost analysis.

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Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Despite the importance of hemodialysis vascular access, the cost of vascular access care has not been studied in detail. A prospective cost analysis was performed among incident hemodialysis patients to determine the cost of vascular access care overall and on the basis of access type. Detailed clinical and demographic information, as well as data on access type, was collected for all local incident hemodialysis patients between July 1, 1999, and November 1, 2001. A comprehensive measure of total vascular access costs, including surgery, radiology, hospitalization for access complications, physician costs, costs for management of outpatient bacteremia, and vascular access monitoring costs, was obtained. Costs are reported in 2002 Canadian dollars (1 CAN dollar = 0.69 US dollar). A total of 239 consecutive incident hemodialysis patients were identified, 49, 157, and 33 of whom were dialyzed exclusively with a catheter or had a native arteriovenous fistula or synthetic graft attempted, respectively. In year 1, 18.4% of all hospital admissions were for vascular access-related complications. The mean cost of all vascular access care in year 1 was 6890 CAN dollars(median 4020 dollars; interquartile range [IQR] 2440 dollars to 7540 dollars). The mean cost of access care per patient-year at risk for maintaining a catheter exclusively, attempting an arteriovenous fistula, or attempting a graft was 9180 dollars (median 3812 dollars; IQR 2250 dollars to 7762 dollars), 7989 dollars (median 4641 dollars ; IQR 3035 dollars to 8832 dollars), and 11,685 dollars (median 8152 dollars; IQR 3395 dollars to 12,908 dollars), respectively (P = 0.01). Vascular access care is responsible for a significant proportion of health care costs in the first year of hemodialysis. These results support clinical practice guidelines that recommend preferential placement of a native fistula.

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