Quantifying The Costs of Creating and Maintaining Hemodialysis Access in An All-Payer Rate-Controlled Health System

Rebecca Sorber, Joseph K. Canner, Christopher J. Abularrage, Paula K. Shireman, Dorry L. Segev, James H. James, Karen Woo, Caitlin W. Hicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The creation and maintenance of durable hemodialysis access is critically important for reducing patient morbidity and controlling overall costs within health systems. Our objective was to quantify the costs associated with hemodialysis access creation and its maintenance over time within a rate-controlled health system where charges equate to payments. Methods: The Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission administrative claims database was used to identify patients who underwent first-time access creation from 2012–2020. Patients were identified using CPT codes for access creation, and costs were accrued for the initial encounter and all subsequent outpatient access-related encounters. T-tests and Wilcoxon tests were used to compare reinterventions and access-related costs ($USD) between arteriovenous fistulae (AVF) and arteriovenous grafts (AVG). Multivariable modeling was used to quantify the association of access type with charge variation. Results: Overall, 12,716 patients underwent first-time access creation (69.3% AVF vs. 30.7% AVG). There was no difference in freedom from reintervention between the two access types at any point following creation (HR: 1.03, 95%CI: 0.97-1.10); however, AVF were associated with a lower number of cumulative reinterventions (1.50 vs. 2.24) compared to AVG (P<0.0001). AVF was associated with lower overall costs in the year of creation ($9,388 vs. $13,539, P<0.0001), a difference that remained significant over the subsequent 3 years. The lower costs associated with AVF were present both in the costs associated with creation and subsequent maintenance. On multivariable analysis, AVF was associated with a $3,557 reduction in total access-related costs versus AVG (95%CI -$3828, -3287). Conclusion: AVF require fewer interventions and are associated with lower costs at placement and over the first three years of maintenance compared to AVG. The use of AVF for first-time hemodialysis access represents an opportunity for healthcare savings in appropriately selected patients with a high preoperative likelihood of AVF maturation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-151
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Vascular Surgery
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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