For the fourth quarter of 2005, the fistula hemodialysis adoption rate for American kidney patients reached 41 percent, which represents an increase of 24 percent over the baseline rate of 33 percent in 2003, according to a report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
A fistula is a connection surgically created by joining a vein and an artery in the forearm that allows blood from the artery to flow into the vein for safe and easy access for dialysis.
Patients who receive dialysis with an access method other than a fistula have a 20-percent to 70-percent greater chance of death in the first year after their placement.
In addition, fistulas cost less to place and maintain than other forms of access and are associated with less rework and complications requiring hospitalization.
CMS has been working as part of the Fistula First coalition of groups interested in improving care for kidney disease patients, with the goal of increasing adoption of the procedure in the United States.
The newly released numbers indicate that the country is five years ahead of schedule for achieving the fistula usage goal laid out in the Nation's Healthy People 2010 guidelines.
"The Fistula First coalition has made lifesaving progress since it began," said CMS Administrator Mark B. McClellan. "Fistulas reduce serious infections, complications leading to hospitalizations, and mortality often associated with other forms of vascular access for kidney patients. This is a model of how we can work together to improve health and reduce costly complications," he said.