St. Mary’s Hospital first in Arizona to offer new procedure for dialysis patients

Apr 23, 2019

New option for AV fistula creation doesn’t need surgery to establish dialysis access point

TUCSON – Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital is the first Arizona to offer a new, nonsurgical procedure to prepare kidney failure patients for dialysis treatment. The WavelinQ system uses radio frequency to create an arteriovenous fistula, an important step in creating an access point for dialysis treatment.

Carondelet WavelinQ teamThe new WavelinQ 6F EndoAVF system does not require open surgery of traditional AV fistula creation. It can be performed the hospital’s Endovascular suite, according to Dr. Scott Berman, who performed the first WavelinQ procedures at St. Mary’s Hospital.

During dialysis, an artificial kidney is used to remove waste and extra chemicals and fluid from the blood. To get blood into the artificial kidney, a doctor must create an access point into the blood stream.

“Only two small punctures are needed for inserting catheters into the artery and vein. Magnets on the catheters pull them together and radiofrequency is applied, which makes a hole between the two to create the AV fistula,” said Dr. Berman. “Previously, this connection was done by making an incision in the forearm and suturing an artery and vein together.”

Connecting the artery and vein increases blood flow and causes the vein to grow. A larger vein allows the right amount of blood flow for a patient to receive sufficient dialysis treatment. Creating and maintaining this connection is crucial for patients to be able to receive life-sustaining dialysis.

“The AV fistula can be used for hemodialysis after a healing time of around six weeks with this new procedure. Recovery time can be significantly shorter than with open surgery, presumably because there is less trauma to the area,” he noted.

“In my opinion, it’s a breakthrough procedure that is less invasive and allows a faster recovery time. Patients can begin dialysis treatment sooner compared to surgical AV fistula creation. It’s encouraging to see Carondelet investing in this technology to offer an alternative option for patients with end-stage renal disease.”

Dialysis is needed for individuals who have end-stage kidney failure, which is typically when 85-90 percent of kidney function is lost.

“WavelinQ provides a new option for those who need dialysis. We’re proud of the team at St. Mary’s Hospital for the care they provide. It’s quite an honor to lead the way in Arizona and be the first to offer the procedure,” said Ryan Harper, chief operating officer, Carondelet St. May’s Hospital.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:

  • More than 661,000 Americans have kidney failure.
  • Approximately 468,000 individuals with kidney failure are on dialysis.
  • Kidney disease often has no symptoms in its early stages and can go undetected until it is very advanced. (For this reason, kidney disease is often referred to as a “silent disease.”)
  • African-Americans are about 3.5 times more likely to develop end stage renal disease than Caucasians.
  • Hispanics are about 1.5 times more likely to develop end stage renal disease than non-Hispanics.

Sign Up for Health Tips

Get our advice and upcoming events about weight, pain, heart and more.

Find a Doctor

Need a doctor for your care?