Causes of arteriovenous fistulas include:

  • Cardiac catheterization. An arteriovenous fistula may develop as a complication of a procedure called cardiac catheterization. During cardiac catheterization, a long thin tube called a catheter is inserted in an artery or vein in your groin, neck or arm and threaded through your blood vessels to your heart. If the needle used in the catheterization crosses an artery and vein during your procedure, and the artery is widened (dilated), this can create an arteriovenous fistula. Although this is a common way an arteriovenous fistula may develop, it's still rare.
  • Injuries that pierce the skin. It's also possible to develop an arteriovenous fistula after a piercing injury, such as a gunshot or stab wound. This may happen if your wound is on a part of your body where a vein and artery are side by side.
  • Being born with an arteriovenous fistula. Some people are born with an arteriovenous fistula (congenital). Although the exact reason why isn't clear, in congenital arteriovenous fistulas the arteries and veins don't develop properly in the womb.
  • Genetic conditions. Arteriovenous fistulas in the lungs (pulmonary arteriovenous fistulas) can be caused by a genetic disease (Rendu-Osler-Weber disease) that causes blood vessels to develop abnormally throughout your body, but especially in the lungs.
  • Surgical creation (AV fistula procedure). People who have late-stage kidney failure may also have an arteriovenous fistula surgically created to make it easier to perform dialysis. If a dialysis needle is inserted into a vein too many times, the vein may scar and be destroyed. Creating an arteriovenous fistula widens the vein by connecting it to a nearby artery, making it easier to insert a needle for dialysis and causing blood to flow faster. This AV fistula is usually created in the forearm.
Apr. 27, 2012