Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital endovascular surgeon Scott J. Sanders successfully performed Western Kentucky’s first endovascular fistula recently.

An AV fistula is the connection made between an artery and a vein for dialysis access. Typically, the creation of a fistula requires surgery, making the non-surgical feat of Sanders and the Mercy Health team a minimally invasive option for patients with kidney disease, the hospital said.

“The positive impacts for the patient with this procedure are endless,” said Ashley Baker, the clinical nurse supervisor of Lourdes’ angiography department. “Compared to a traditional fistula surgery, this new non-invasive approach greatly reduces scaring for the patient. This is a huge advancement in the vascular and nephrology world and that’s why I’m so proud of Dr. Sanders and our team for being the first and only in the area to offer this option. Our staff in both the special procedures and ultrasound labs underwent extensive training to be able to support Dr Sanders and our nephrologists.”

Mercy Health’s team utilized the WavelinQ 4F EndoAVF System, a recent innovation in endovascular AV fistula creation technology, which allows for the creation of the fistula in either the ulnar artery and ulnar vein or the radial artery and radial vein.

“With this new technology and the expertise and training of our team, I can now provide patients with two additional fistula location options compared to a surgical fistula,” Sanders said. “These additional sites and the minimally-invasive nature of this procedure can increase the likelihood we can provide a usable AV fistula to our kidney disease patients.”

When patients have end-stage renal disease, their kidneys can no longer keep up with the body’s need to remove extra waste and water. Decreased kidney function eventually requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to sustain life. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 440,000 patients with end-stage renal disease surviving on dialysis.

Patients on dialysis or who will soon start dialysis should speak to their physician about whether the non-surgical option of AV fistula creation is right for them, the hospital said.

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