Review Article

Physical Examination as a Tool for Hemodialysis Vascular Access Surveillance

Khalil Essa SE1*, Sharaf M2

1Regional Renal Coordinator, Abu Dhabi-Madinat Zayed Hospital, Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

2Internal Medicine Specialist-AlDhafra Hospital, Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

*Corresponding author: Khalil Essa SE, Specialist Nephrology, P.O.Box: 58341, Madinat Zayed Hospital, Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Email: issa5463@hotmail.com

Received Date: 19 June, 2023

Accepted Date: 27 June, 2023

Published Date: 30 June, 2023

Citation: Khalil Essa SE, Sharaf M (2023) Physical Examination as a Tool for Hemodialysis Vascular Access Surveillance. Rep Glob Health Res 6: 162. https://doi.org/10.29011/2690-9480.100162.

Abstract

Introduction: Physical Examination (PE) of the arteriovenous (AV) access is of established clinical importance.

The National Kidney Foundation Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (KDOQI) guidelines recommend that PE of the AV access should be performed by a qualified individual on regular basis (at least monthly) when used for surveillance. The primary purpose of this examination is to detect vascular stenosis or other abnormalities that might lead to access dysfunction. This can be done with levels of accuracy that are quite acceptable. In contrast to other approaches to AV access surveillance, it is simple to perform and does not require additional machines, regular calibrations, additional cost, or additional staff. In addition PE can also detect other problems that can adversely affect the AV access. For these reasons, plus the fact that it is easily learned, PE should be taught to all hemodialysis caregivers and should be performed on a regular basis on all hemodialysis patients.

Purpose of this study:

  • The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of physical examination in the detection and location of AV access stenosis when compared with angiography.
  • To reflect the importance of PE in prevention of vascular access dysfunction.

Results:

  • There was strong agreement between physical examination and angiography in the diagnosis and localization of outflow and inflow stenosis.
  • In addition to the detection of stenosis, pinpointing the location of stenosis on physical examination has important procedural implications.

Keywords: Physical Examination (PE); Vascular Access

Surveillance; Vascular Stenosis; Venous Stenosis; Access Dysfunction

Introduction

Physical examination (PE) of the arteriovenous (AV) access is of established clinical importance. The National Kidney Foundation Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (KDOQI) guidelines recommend that PE of the AV access should be performed by a qualified individual on regular basis (at least monthly) when used for surveillance.

NKF-K/DOQI Clinical Practice Guideline

Physical Examination (Monitoring)

Physical examination should be used to detect dysfunction in fistulae and grafts at least monthly by a qualified individual. The primary purpose of this examination is to detect vascular stenosis or other abnormalities that might lead to access dysfunction.

This can be done with levels of accuracy that are quite acceptable. In contrast to other approaches to AV access surveillance, it is simple to perform and does not require additional machines, regular calibrations, additional cost, or additional staff.

In addition PE can also detect other problems that can adversely affect the AV access.

For these reasons, plus the fact that it is easily learned, PE should be taught to all hemodialysis care givers and should be performed on a regular basis on all hemodialysis patients.

Purpose of this Study:

The Main Goal!

  1. “Prospective Diagnosis of Venous Stenosis”

It is important that all hemodialysis facilities have in place a system designed to detect venous stenosis so that it can be diagnosed and treated prospectively.

  1. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of physical examination in the detection and location of AV access stenosis when compared with standard angiography.
  2. To reflect the importance of PE in prevention of vascular access dysfunction.

Methods:

A. Thirty six patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD) on regular hemodialysis in Madinat Zayed hospital were included in the study.

Each patient underwent vascular access physical examination.

• The elements of the physical examination used in this study were based on recent information by Beathard and colleagues.

Inspection (arm, shoulder, breast, neck, and face edema and presence of collaterals), palpation, and auscultation were performed in a systematic manner.

Pulse (hyper pulsatile, normal, weak) and thrill/bruit (continuous, discontinuous) characteristics were ascertained.

• Pulse augmentation: to evaluate the inflow segment it was performed by complete occlusion of the access several centimeters beyond the arterial anastomosis and evaluation of the strength of the pulse, the test was considered normal when the portion of fistula upstream from the occluding finger demonstrated augmentation of pulse.

• Arm elevation: to evaluate the outflow tract test was performed by elevation of the extremity with the fistula and examination of the normal collapse of the access

The test was considered abnormal when the fistula remained plump after arm elevation.

• The physical examination findings and the diagnosis were recorded.

B. All patients with abnormal findings in PE underwent both retrograde and ante grade angiography by interventional radiology (IR) and intervention done accordingly.

Physical Examination:

  1. Pulse.
  2. Thrill and bruit.
  3. Augmentation test.
  4. Arm elevation test.
  5. Clinical features.

1-Pulse

  • Pulse. Normally, the AV access is easily compressible with very little pulse.

In general, a pulsatile AV access is an adverse finding, and it is indicative of a downstream lesion.

  • The degree of hyperpulsatility that is present is proportional to the severity of the stenosis.
  • An unusually weak pulse (hypo pulsatile access) or “flat access” suggests the presence of a stenotic lesion in the inflow side of the access.

The pulse may be best appreciated using the fingertips (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Pulse Examination.

2-Thrill and bruit (Flow):

  • 1-Thrill: - is felt by palpation. Figure 2
  • 2-Bruit: - is heard by auscultation. (Figure 3).

Thrill. A thrill is a palpable vibration (“buzz”).

It is related to flow; when present, it indicates that there is flow within the access. The examination of an access can reveal two different types of thrill—a diffuse background thrill and a localized accentuated thrill.

The presence of a soft, continuous (systolic and diastolic), diffuse background thrill palpable over the course of the access, either an AVF or an AVG, is normal. (Figure 2-A).

A stenotic lesion creates a localized area of turbulent flow within the vessel.

As the lesion develops with progressively increasing resistance to flow, the thrill becomes shortened and eventually loses its diastolic component. (Figure 2-B).

The absence of a thrill indicates a lack of flow. This finding, along with the absence of any pulse, is characteristic of athrombosed or “clotted” access.