Fistula First Initiative: Historical Impact on Vascular Access Practice Patterns and Influence on Future Vascular Access Care

Academic Article


  • The vascular access is the lifeline for the hemodialysis patient. In the United States, the Fistula First Breakthrough Initiative (FFBI) has been influential in improving use of arteriovenous fistulas (AVF) in prevalent hemodialysis patients. Currently, prevalent AVF rates are near the goal of 66% set forth by the original FFBI. However, central venous catheter (CVC) rates remain very high in the United States in patients initiating hemodialysis, nearly exceeding 80%. A new direction of the of the FFBI has focused on strategies to reduce CVC use, and subsequently the FFBI has now been renamed the “Fistula First-Catheter Last Initiative”. However, an AVF may not be the best vascular access in all hemodialysis patients, and arteriovenous grafts (AVG) and CVCs may be appropriate and the best access for a subset of hemodialysis patients. Unfortunately, there still remains very little emphasis within vascular access initiatives and guidelines directed towards evaluation of the individual patient context, specifically patients with poor long-term prognoses and short life expectancies, patients with multiple comorbidities, patients who are more likely to die than reach end stage renal disease (ESRD), and patients of elderly age with impaired physical and cognitive function. Given the complexity of medical and social issues in advanced CKD and ESRD patients, planning, selection, and placement of the most appropriate vascular access are ideally managed within a multidisciplinary setting and requires consideration of several factors including national vascular access guidelines. Thus, the evolution of the FFBI should underscore the need for multidisciplinary health teams with a major emphasis placed on “the right access for the right patient” and improving the patient’s overall quality of life.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Lee T
  • Start Page

  • 244
  • End Page

  • 254
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 3