Left untreated, an arteriovenous fistula can cause complications, some of which can be serious. These include:
April 07, 2015
- Heart failure. This is the most serious complication of large arteriovenous fistulas. Since your blood flows more quickly through an arteriovenous fistula than it would if your blood flowed through a normal course of arteries, capillaries and veins, your heart pumps harder to compensate for the drop in blood pressure (called high output heart failure). Over time, the increased intensity of your heart's pumping can weaken your heart muscle, leading to heart failure.
- Blood clots. An arteriovenous fistula in your legs can cause blood clots to form, potentially leading to deep vein thrombosis, a painful and potentially life-threatening condition if the clot travels to your lungs (pulmonary embolism). Depending on where your fistula is, it can lead to a stroke.
- Leg pain. An arteriovenous fistula in your leg can also cause you to develop pain in your legs (claudication), or can worsen pain you already have.
- Bleeding. Arteriovenous malformations may lead to bleeding, including into your gastrointestinal system.
- Cronenwett JL, et al. Acquired arteriovenous fistulae. In: Rutherford's Vascular Surgery. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier: 2014.
- Mohler ER. Acquired arteriovenous fistulas of the lower extremity. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 23, 2015.
- Vascular access for hemodialysis. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/vascularaccess/. Accessed Feb. 23, 2015.
- Doherty GM, ed. Arteries. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Surgery. 13th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Feb. 23, 2015.
- Catheter embolization. Radiological Society of North America. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=cathembol. Accessed Feb. 23, 2015.