Screening for dialysis access graft malfunction: comparison of physical examination with US

Scott O. Trerotola, Paul J. Scheel, Neil R. Powe, Carol Prescott, Nancy Feeley, Jiang He, Alan Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: To test the reliability and performance of two physical diagnosis algorithms for use in physical examination of vascular access grafts. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Grafts were assessed in 39 patients by means of physical examination performed by four observers. Grafts were characterized as having a thrill, pulse, or indeterminate examination at three locations (arterial, midpoint, venous). Findings with this algorithm were compared with those from ultrasound (US) with volume flow measurements. RESULTS: Patients with a thrill at all three locations of the graft all had volume flows greater than 450 mL/min (negative predictive value = 100%). Of patients with a pulse at any of the three locations, only 28% (positive predictive value) had a volume flow of 450 mL/ min or less. CONCLUSION: Physical examination is a good screening test for ruling out the low flows associated with impending access graft failure, thereby eliminating the need for routine US for many patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-20
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Dialysis, shunts
  • Ultrasound (US), comparative studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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