We conducted a survey and semi-structured qualitative interviews to investigate current anaesthetic practice for arteriovenous fistula formation surgery in the UK. Responses were received from 39 out of 59 vascular centres where arteriovenous access surgery is performed, a response rate of 66%. Thirty-five centres reported routine use of brachial plexus blocks, but variation in anaesthetic skill-mix and practice were observed. Interviews were conducted with 19 clinicians from 10 NHS Trusts including anaesthetists, vascular access and renal nurses, surgeons and nephrologists. Thematic analysis identified five key findings: (1) current anaesthetic practice showed that centres could be classified as 'regional anaesthesia dominant' or 'local anaesthesia/mixed'; (2) decision making around mode of anaesthesia highlighted the key role of surgeons as frontline decision makers across both centre types; (3) perceived barriers and facilitators of regional block use included clinicians' beliefs and preferences, resource considerations and patients' treatment preferences; (4) anaesthetists' preference for supraclavicular blocks emerged, alongside acknowledgement of varied practice; (5) there was widespread support for a future randomised controlled trial, although clinician equipoise issues and logistical/resource-related concerns were viewed as potential challenges. The use of regional anaesthesia for arteriovenous fistula formation in the UK is varied and influenced by a multitude of factors. Despite the availability of anaesthetists capable of performing regional blocks, there are other limiting factors that influence the routine use of this technique. The study also highlighted the perceived need for a large multicentre, randomised controlled trial to provide an evidence base to inform current practice.
- BTC (Bristol Trials Centre)
- arteriovenous fistula formation
- regional anaesthesia
- upper extremity nerve blocks
- vascular access