Superficialization Methods of Arteriovenous Fistula in Obese Patients: A Review of the Literature

Published:December 23, 2021DOI:


      The creation of an arteriovenous fistula in obese patients with end-stage-renal-disease, might not lead to a successful hemodialysis session, partly due to excess adipose tissue overlapping the enlarged vein. This review summarizes the available evidence on superficialization methods in studies dealing with obese patients.


      An English-language literature search was undertaken in the MEDLINE/SCOPUS databases looking for publications that described procedures of salvaging autologous arteriovenous access in upper extremities of obese patients. Perioperative outcomes including technical and clinical success, mean vein depth reduction, wound complications and patency rates were compared within all identified techniques.


      We identified 12 prospective and 8 retrospective studies. A total of 1149 patients with a mean age 57.2 (range: 49–68) years and a mean BMI 35.8 (range: 28.2–40.8) kg/m2 underwent mainly radial-cephalic and brachial-cephalic arteriovenous fistula superficialization procedures [transposition, 54%; elevation, 11.1%; lipectomy, 26.1%; liposuction, 2.4%; implantation of a venous window needle guide device, 6.4%]. Technical success was similar between all methods (≥96%). However, successful cannulation was lower after liposuction and elevation (81.5% and 78.1% respectively). Transposition achieved lower mean vein depth reduction and clinical success when compared with lipectomy (4.9 mm vs. 8.8 mm and 90% vs. 92.7% respectively). Transposition and liposuction had the lowest and highest complication rate respectively (1.6% vs. 40.8%). Primary and secondary patency rates were lower with liposuction (51.8% and 76.6% respectively), while lipectomy and elevation achieved the highest primary patency rates (68.3% and 71.6% respectively) at 12 months.


      In obese patients, all superficialisation techniques report high technical success rates. Although limited by the design of individual published studies and lack of a standard for reporting outcomes, these results lead to satisfactory postoperative and early outcomes. In aggregate, lipectomy and transposition are more clinically effective and more durable procedures.
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