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Does regional compared to local anaesthesia influence outcome after arteriovenous fistula creation?

Alan James Robert Macfarlane1*, Rachel Joyce Kearns1, Emma Aitken2, John Kinsella3 and Marc James Clancy2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anaesthesia, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 91 Wishart Street, Glasgow, Scotland G31 2HT, UK

2 Renal Surgery/Transplant Unit, Western Infirmary, Dumbarton Road, Glasgow Scotland G11 6NT, UK

3 Academic Unit of Anaesthesia Unit, Pain & Critical Care Medicine 4th Floor, Walton Building, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 91 Wishart Street, Glasgow, Scotland G31 2HT, UK

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Trials 2013, 14:263  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-263

Published: 19 August 2013



An arteriovenous fistula is the optimal form of vascular access in patients with end-stage renal failure requiring haemodialysis. Unfortunately, approximately one-third of fistulae fail at an early stage. Different anaesthetic techniques can influence factors associated with fistula success, such as intraoperative blood flow and venous diameter. A regional anaesthetic brachial plexus block results in vasodilatation and improved short- and long-term fistula flow compared to the infiltration of local anaesthetic alone. This, however, has not yet been shown in a large trial to influence long-term fistula patency, the ultimate clinical measure of success.

The aim of this study is to compare whether a regional anaesthetic block, compared to local anaesthetic infiltration, can improve long-term fistula patency.


This study is an observer-blinded, randomised controlled trial. Patients scheduled to undergo creation of either brachial or radial arteriovenous fistulae will receive a study information sheet, and consent will be obtained in keeping with the Declaration of Helsinki. Patients will be randomised to receive either: (i) an ultrasound guided brachial plexus block using lignocaine with adrenaline and levobupivicaine, or (ii) local anaesthetic infiltration with lignocaine and levobupivicaine.

A total of 126 patients will be recruited. The primary outcome is fistula primary patency at three months. Secondary outcomes include primary patency at 1 and 12 months, secondary patency and fistula flow at 1, 3 and 12 months, flow on first haemodialysis, procedural pain, patient satisfaction, change in cephalic vein diameter pre- and post-anaesthetic, change in radial or brachial artery flow pre- and post-anaesthetic, alteration of the surgical plan after anaesthesia as guided by vascular mapping with ultrasound, and fistula infection requiring antibiotics.


No large randomised controlled trial has examined the influence of brachial plexus block compared with local anaesthetic infiltration on the long-term patency of arteriovenous fistulae. If the performance of brachial plexus block increases fistulae patency, this will have significant clinical and financial benefits as the number of patients able to commence haemodialysis when planned should increase, and the number of “redo” or revision procedures should be reduced.

Trial registration

This study has been approved by the West of Scotland Research Ethics Committee 5 (reference no. 12/WS/0199) and is registered with the database (reference no. NCT01706354).

Fistula; Patency; Flow; Anaesthetic; Local; Nerve block; Renal failure