During the last few years, the number of elderly patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) has been increasing worldwide. Establishment of a viable vascular access is of primary importance in these patients. This review discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the available vascular access modalities [namely arteriovenous (AV) fistulae, AV grafts, and central venous catheters (CVCs)] in elderly ESRD patients. AV fistulae seem to be superior when compared with other vascular access alternatives with respect to patency, morbidity and mortality rates. On the other hand, due to the age-related advanced atherosclerosis in the elderly, higher failure rates for AV fistulae in this age group have been described. Two controversial issues, namely the higher infection and thrombosis rates in elderly ESRD patients, are also discussed. Current evidence suggests that old age should not comprise a drawback when selecting the appropriate vascular access modality (AV fistula, AV graft or CVC) for the performance of hemodialysis. The possible vascular access options in elderly ESRD patients should not be different from younger individuals.
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