BACKGROUND: Increased flow in the subclavian artery feeding a vascular access for hemodialysis can induce steal phenomena in the vertebral (VA) and internal mammary artery (IMA). The aim of this study was to describe the hemodynamic effects of access flow on the VA and IMA in patients with native fistulas and grafts.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Peak systolic (PSV) and end diastolic (EDV) velocity measurements of the VA, IMA and carotid arteries, as well as flow volume measurements of the subclavian artery, were performed. Flow measurements at the side of the vascular access were compared with the contralateral side. Fifty-five patients were consecutively included, most with a radio-cephalic fistula on the left arm with a mean shunt volume of 1156 ml/min.
RESULTS: Pathologic flow patterns were observed in the ipsilateral VA in four patients (7.3 %); contralateral VA flow was normal in all patients. Peak systolic velocity of the VA was significantly decreased at the side of the shunt arm with a PSV of 42.6 ± 11.8 cm/s compared to 48.4 ± 15.6 cm/s contralateral (p < 0.05). The IMA flow pattern were normal in all patients. The PSV of the IMA was significantly decreased (p < 0.01) at the side of the shunt arm (87.5 ± 29.1 cm/s) compared to the non-shunt arm (95.9 ± 27.4 cm/s).
CONCLUSION: We describe significant hemodynamic effects of fistulas to the vertebral and internal mammary arteries. Doppler spectral analysis of the vertebral and internal mammary arteries should be integrated in ultrasound, especially in patients with cerebrovascular or cardiac symptoms.