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A randomised clinical trial of ultrasound guided cannulation of difficult fistulae for dialysis access

Eves, Joshua; Cai, Paris; Latham, Ross; Leung, Clement; Carradice, Daniel; Chetter, Ian; Smith, George


Joshua Eves

Paris Cai

Ross Latham

Clement Leung


Background: Arteriovenous fistulae (AVF) are preferred for dialysis access but require accurate cannulation for effective dialysis. Evidence supports improvements in cannulation and complication rates using ultrasound guidance (USG) in cannulating other sites. This mixed methods, randomised controlled trial aimed to assess effects of USG during AVF cannulation.

Methods: Participants with difficult to cannulate AVF had each cannulation event randomised to USG or standard technique (no USG). The primary outcome was the incidence and number of additional needle passes. Secondary outcomes included: the incidence and number of additional skin punctures; time to achieve two needle cannulation; pain associated with cannulation; local complications. Qualitative outcomes were assessed using patient and staff questionnaires.

Results: 32 participants had 346 cannulation events randomised (170 to USG and 176 to standard cannulation). USG resulted in a significant reduction in additional needle passes (72 vs 99 p=0.007) and additional skin punctures (10 vs 25 p=0.016.) but prolonged time to cannulation (p>0.001). There was no difference in pain score (p=0.705) or complications between groups. Questionnaires demonstrated that USG cannulation is acceptable to patients and staff.

Conclusion: USG cannulation of AVF is more accurate and no more painful than non-image guided cannulation, but prolonged time to cannulation. Some of the excess time involved may be due to the trial being performed early in cannulating staff’s learning curve with the USG technique. Further work to elucidate which patients gain most benefit from USG cannulation and the effect of USG on cannulation complications and AVF patency is warranted.


Eves, J., Cai, P., Latham, R., Leung, C., Carradice, D., Chetter, I., & Smith, G. (in press). A randomised clinical trial of ultrasound guided cannulation of difficult fistulae for dialysis access. The journal of vascular access,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 2, 2020
Online Publication Date Sep 4, 2020
Deposit Date Aug 5, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Journal of Vascular Access
Print ISSN 1129-7298
Electronic ISSN 1724-6032
Publisher Wichtig
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Ultrasound guidance; Cannulation; AV fistula; Dialysis access; Ultrasonography – Doppler evaluation; Nursing
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