Distal revascularization and interval ligation for dialysis access-related ischemia is best performed using arm vein conduit

M. Libby Weaver, Courtenay M. Holscher, Alexis Graham, Thomas Reifsnyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Distal revascularization and interval ligation (DRIL) is an effective approach to the management of hemodialysis access-related ischemia that offers both symptom relief and access salvage. The great saphenous vein (GSV) has been the most commonly used conduit. However, the use of an ipsilateral arm vein will allow for performance of the operation with the patient under regional anesthesia and might result in lower harvest site morbidity than the GSV. We sought to determine the suitability of DRIL using an arm vein compared with a GSV conduit. Methods: All patients who had undergone DRIL from 2008 to 2019 were retrospectively identified in the electronic medical records. The characteristics and outcomes of those with an arm vein vs a GSV conduit were compared using the Wilcoxon log-rank and χ2 tests. Access patency was examined using Kaplan-Meier methods, with censoring at lost to follow-up or death. Results: A total of 66 patients who had undergone DRIL for hand ischemia were included in the present study. An arm vein conduit was used in 40 patients (median age, 65 years; 25% male) and a GSV conduit in 26 patients (median age, 58 years; 19% male). No significant differences in comorbidities were found between the two groups, with the exception of diabetes mellitus (arm vein group, 78%; GSV group, 50% GSV; P =.02). No difference in the ischemia stage at presentation was present between the groups, with most patients presenting with stage 3 ischemia. Also, no differences in patency of hemodialysis access after DRIL between the two groups were found (P =.96). At 12 and 24 months after DRIL, 86.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 68.3%-94.9%) and 82.0% (95% CI, 61.3%-92.3%) of patients with an arm vein conduit had access patency compared with 93.8% (95% CI, 63.2%-99.1%) and 76.9% (95% CI, 43.0%-92.2%) of those with a GSV conduit, respectively. All but one patient had symptom resolution. The incidence of wound complications was significantly greater in the GSV group than in the arm vein group (46% vs 11%; P =.003). DRIL bypass had remained patent in all but one patient in each group, with a median follow-up of 18 months (range, 1-112 months) in the arm vein conduit group and 15 months (range, 0.25-105 months) in the GSV conduit group. Conclusions: DRIL procedures using an arm vein have advantages over those performed with the GSV. In our series, symptom resolution and access salvage were similar but distinctly fewer wound complications had occurred in the arm vein group. Additionally, the use of an arm vein conduit avoids the need for general anesthesia. If an ipsilateral arm vein is available, it should be the conduit of choice when performing DRIL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1368-1375.e1
JournalJournal of vascular surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Access complication
  • Dialysis
  • Steal syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Distal revascularization and interval ligation for dialysis access-related ischemia is best performed using arm vein conduit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this