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BMC Nephrol. 2019 Sep 13;20(1):356. doi: 10.1186/s12882-019-1536-2.

Measuring the palpable pulsatility length as a physical examination test in defining the severity of inflow stenosis for hemodialysis fistulas.

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Department of Interventional Radiology, Yuan's General Hospital, No.162, Cheng-gong 1st Rd., Lingya District, Kaohsiung City, 802, Taiwan.
Department of Radiology, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Department of Interventional Nursing, Yuan's General Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Department of Nephrology, Yuan's General Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.



Pulsatility is an important property of hemodialysis arteriovenous fistulas (AVF) and can be perceived by the fingers as a gradual decrease in strength downstream from the anastomosis along the main trunk of the fistula. The distance from the point at which the pulse becomes imperceptible to the anastomosis is termed the palpable pulsatility length (PPL); we considered this length may play a role in assessing the severity of inflow stenosis for hemodialysis fistulas.


This study was performed by retrospective analysis of routinely collected data. Physical examinations and fistula measurements were performed in a selected population of 76 hemodialysis patients with mature fistulas during half a year. Fistula measurements included the PPL before and after treatment and the distance between the anastomosis and the arterial cannulation site (aPump length). The aPump index (API) was calculated by dividing the PPL by the aPump length. Angiograms were reviewed to determine the location and severity of stenosis. PPL and API were used to detect the critical inflow stenosis, which indicates severe inflow stenosis of an AVF.


Receiver operating characteristic analysis showed that the area under the curve was 0.895 for API and 0.878 for PPL. A cutoff value of API < 1.29 and PPL < 11.0 cm were selected to detect the critical inflow stenosis. The sensitivity was 96.0% versus 80.0% and specificity was 84.31% versus 84.31% for API and PPL, respectively.


PPL and API are useful tools in defining the severity of pure inflow stenosis for mature AVFs in the hands of trained examiners with high sensitivity and specificity.


Arteriovenous shunt; Blood flow velocity; Hemodialysis; Physical examinations and diagnoses; Surgical

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