, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 53-56

Ultrasound thrombolysis in hemodialysis access: In vitro investigation

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Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of ultrasound thrombolysis in occluded hemodialysis access shunts using an in vitro model.

Methods: Thrombosed hemodialysis accesses were simulated by clotted bovine blood in a flow model (silicone tubing; inner diameters 4, 6, and 9 mm). After retrograde and antegrade sheath placement (7 Fr), mechanical thrombolysis was performed using an ultrasound probe (Acolysis, Angiosonics, Morrisville, NC, USA). The tip of the device measured 2.2 mm in diameter. During sonication, the catheter was moved slowly back and forth using an over-the-wire system. Thirty complete occlusions [tubing diameters 4 mm (n=12), 6 mm (n=12). 9 mm (n=6)] were treated, initial thrombus weights were 3.5 (±0.76) g, 7.7 (±1.74) g, and 19.4 (±2.27) g for the three diameters. Maximum sonication time was 15 min for each probe.

Results: With this device, we were able to restore a continuous lumen in all 12 occluded 4∼mm silicone tubes. No wall-adherent thrombi remained after sonication for 3.5–9.6 min. In hemodialysis access models with diameters of 6 mm, thrombus fragments persisted in 25% (3/12 accesses). These were located in the medial portion of the access loop and near to the puncture sites. However, flow was re-established after 5.0–13.0 min of treatment in all settings. Mechanical dissolution of thrombus material failed in five of six access models with diameters of 9 mm, even though ultrasound energy was applied for the maximum of 15 min.

Conclusion: In a clotted hemodialysis shunt model, successful ultrasound thrombolysis was limited to small access diameters and small amounts of thrombus.