South Carolina hospital offers new procedure for patients with kidney disease

January 29, 2019 GMT

A South Carolina hospital will be the first in the state to offer a minimally-invasive procedure to patients with end-stage kidney disease.

The procedure, Percutaneous Fistula Creation, will be available at the Dialysis Access Institute at Regional Medical Centers in Orangeburg County. It is one of a “handful” of hospitals in the country that currently offers the procedure, according to a press release.

Percutaneous Fistula Creation uses a small caliber catheter to create an arteriovenous (AV) fistula. It is a minimally-invasive procedure that “drastically reduces recovery time” of patients, according to the release.


An AV fistula is a surgically-made or abnormal connection between an artery and a vein. Once the fistula is made, blood flow from the artery will cause the vein to enlarge and increase the rate of blood flowing through it. This enlarged vein is then used for the frequent insertion of dialysis needles.

This process, which has been used for the past five decades to provide treatment to adult patients with end-stage kidney disease, generally takes a period of several weeks.

The catheter-based method replaces a surgical incision with a needle puncture. Magnets, ultrasound imaging, radio frequency energy, and tissue fusion are used in the procedure.

Two catheter-based devices for creating AV fistulas were approved by the FDA in June last year. Both devices are used at Regional Medical Centers.

“We are very pleased with the outcomes we’ve been seeing with this approach,” said Director of RMC’s Dialysis Access Center John Ross. “It’s faster, more efficient and less-invasive than a surgical fistula, and we are proud to be one of the first in the nation to provide our patients with this significant quality of life improvement.”

According to the National Kidney Foundation, around 2 million people worldwide receive dialysis or kidney transplants to stay alive, but this number may represent as few as 10 percent of people who actually need treatment.

The number of people with end-stage renal disease, such as kidney failure, is expected to severely increase (particularly in the U.S.) as diabetes and obesity reach “epidemic proportions”, according to the press release. Procedures such as Percutaneous Fistula Creation may become much more common in the years to come.

Regional Medical Centers is owned and operated by Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties. The Dialysis Access Institute’s surgical team completes more than 3,700 dialysis access procedures annually.

To learn more, visit trmchealth.org.