Complete versus partial excision of infected arteriovenous grafts: Does remnant graft material impact outcomes?

Rui Han Liu, Charles D. Fraser, Xun Zhou, Robert J. Beaulieu, Thomas Reifsnyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Infected arteriovenous grafts necessitate intervention to obtain source control. However, excising the graft material can be challenging and can lead to complications. Leaving a cuff of graft at the sites of anastomosis allows for the avoidance of potential risks. However, it is unclear whether doing so places patients at risk of recurrent graft infection. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of complete vs partial excision of infected arteriovenous prosthetic dialysis access grafts. Methods: The data from all patients who had undergone surgical intervention for infected arteriovenous grafts at a single institution were retrospectively reviewed. The patients were grouped according to intervention type: complete excision and partial excision of arteriovenous prosthetic grafts. Partial excisions were further substratified based on whether flow had been restored through the arteriovenous access. The primary outcome was freedom from subsequent intervention for infection, defined as the number of days from excision to subsequent reoperation for reinfection. Freedom from infection was analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method. Results: A total of 117 patients had undergone surgical intervention for 122 infected arteriovenous grafts from 2003 to 2016. Of these 117 patients, 79 (64.8%) had undergone partial excision of infected arteriovenous grafts, and 43 (35.2%) had undergone complete excision with vascular repair. Within the partial excision cohort, 71 infected arteriovenous grafts (58.2%) were not flow restored and 8 (6.6%) were flow restored using either prosthetic or autogenous interpositions. The median follow-up time was 2.4 years (interquartile range, 0.6-4.5 years). The most common causative organisms included methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (n = 34; 27.9%), methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (n = 17; 13.9%), and S. epidermidis (n = 15; 12.3%). The recurrent infection rate in the partial excision group was 16.5% (n = 13) compared with 2.3% (n = 1) in the complete excision group. In the flow-restored subcohorts, those with restoration using prosthetic interposition grafts had the greatest reinfection rate at 57.1% (n = 4), and those with restoration using autogenous conduits did not experience reinfection (P =.033). Conclusions: Incomplete excision of infected arteriovenous prosthetic grafts was associated with a higher rate of reinfection compared with complete graft excision. Complete excision presents technical challenges but could provide superior source control in managing infected dialysis access. Complete excision with vascular reconstruction should be performed when possible to avoid leaving remnant prosthetic material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-179
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Arteriovenous grafts
  • Dialysis access
  • Graft infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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