Arteriovenous (AV) fistula refers to an abnormal channel between an artery and vein.
In the presence of this abnormal connection blood flows directly from the artery to the vein, bypassing the capillaries. Thus, the tissues and organs supplied by capillaries receive reduced amount of blood.
AV fistulas may be congenital or acquired. Fistula produces symptoms of arterial insufficiency. When left untreated AV fistula result in blood flow in veins under higher pressure than normal.
This may result in enlargement and bulging of veins. Untreated AV fistulas may lead to serious complications. Fistulas are more commonly found in the leg, but may develop in other parts of the body as well.
An AV fistula is created by surgical methods in kidney disease patients who need dialysis.
Small Arteriovenous fistulas often remain asymptomatic. Symptoms are seen associated with large-sized fistulas in the blood vessels.
AV fistulas may be congenital or acquired and the actual cause for Arteriovenous fistulas is not known. Abnormal development of the blood vessels is implied in the formation of fistulas in blood vessels.
Acquired AV fistulas are caused by several factors.
Other tests are used to confirm the diagnosis of AV fistula. The most commonly used technique for diagnosis of AV fistula is duplex ultrasound, a procedure in which a transducer is placed in the affected area. This technique helps to assess the rate of blood flow in the blood vessel.
CT angiogram helps to visualize the blood flow through arteries and veins, including the bypassing of capillaries. AV fistulas in the deep veins are visualized using MRI.
Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is a modified version of MRI in which a special contrast dye is used to visualize the flow of blood in arteries and veins.
Small-sized Arteriovenous fistulas do not require any specific treatment. Monitoring of the progress of the fistulas are suggested, if the fistulas do not cause any health issues. In some cases, the fistulas may resolve on their own without any treatment.
Ultrasound-guided compression is recommended for AV fistulas in legs. The procedure compresses the fistula and inhibits the blood flow to the affected blood vessel.
Cleanliness is utmost important in avoiding infections.
Avoid tight clothing and accessories in the access area of the dialysis needle.
Avoid sleeping with the access arm under the head, and remember to check the pulse of access arm daily.
9 Risks and Complications
Arteriovenous fistulas may lead to some serious complications like heart failure, blood clots, bleeding, and leg pain. Blood clots caused by AV fistulas may lead to deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
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