BMJ Case Reports 2012; doi:10.1136/bcr.05.2011.4269
  • Findings that shed new light on the possible pathogenesis of a disease or an adverse effect

The thrombosed brachial-cephalic fistula used for renal dialysis – A cautionary note

  1. Michael H Lewis1
  1. 1General Surgery Department, Royal Glamorgan Hopital, Llantrisant, UK
  2. 2Pathology Department, Royal Glamorgan, Llantrisant, UK
  1. Correspondence to Mr Jason M Fitchett, jasonfitchett{at}


Arteriovenous fistulae (AVF) are commonly required for dialysis prior to renal transplantation, and are subsequently left insitu, even if thrombosed. The authors present one of two patients in whom progressive digital ischaemia occurred, and was initially overlooked, many years following formation of an AVF. The patient was surgically explored and clot protruding from the thrombosed vein into the brachial artery was noted. The arterial defect was closed with a vein patch and histological examination of the fistula confirmed clot. The patient recovered satisfactorily and remained well 6 months postoperatively. The authors would suggest that embolisation from a thrombosed AVF does occur, has a significant morbidity and can lead to digital loss. Furthermore, transplant patients are usually long suffering and will often put up with what they describe as ‘aches and pains’ as part of their illness. The authors suggest those patients suffering with evidence of ischaemia warrant excision of the fistula.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

Register for free content

The full text of all Editor's Choice articles and summaries of every article are free without registration

The full text of Images in ... articles are free to registered users

Only fellows can access the full text of case reports (apart from Editor's Choice) - become a fellow today, or encourage your institution to, so that together we can grow and develop this resource

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the case reports as they are published, and let us know what you think by commenting on the Editor's blog

Navigate This Article