An arteriovenous fistula or AV is an abnormal connection between a vein and an artery. The blood usually flows from arteries to the tiny blood vessels called capillaries. From there, it goes into the veins. Oxygen and nutrients in the blood go to the tissues of the body through the tissues.
Through an arteriovenous fistula, the blood directly travels from an artery to a vein while avoiding the capillaries. The tissues below the avoided capillaries receive less blood when this happens.
Usually, arteriovenous fistulas occur in the lower limbs, but they can occur anywhere in the body. Sometimes surgical arteriovenous fistula may be created to be used for dialysis in people with severe kidney diseases. The symptoms of arteriovenous fistulas depend on their location in the body. Serious complications can develop as a result of a large untreated fistula. Arteriovenous fistula treatment includes compression, monitoring, catheter-based procedures, and in some cases, surgery.
Small arteriovenous fistulas in the arms, legs, lungs, brain, or kidneys are often asymptomatic. No treatment is usually needed for small arteriovenous fistulas. Careful monitoring by a healthcare provider is enough to manage them. On the other hand, signs and symptoms occur as a result of large arteriovenous fistulas.
The symptoms of arteriovenous fistulas include swellings in the arms or legs, purplish, bulging veins seen through the skin that appear similar to varicose veins, decreased blood pressure, heart failure, and fatigue. If there is a significant pulmonary arteriovenous fistula or arteriovenous fistula in the lungs, a life-threatening condition can occur whose symptoms include blue or pale grey lips or fingernails due to lack of blood flow (cyanosis), coughing up of blood, spreading out of fingernails and they become rounder than usual, and an arteriovenous fistula in the digestive tract that can lead to gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding.
If you reside around Navi Mumbai and experience any of the signs and symptoms of an arteriovenous fistula listed above, you must visit Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Navi Mumbai and get an appointment with an expert doctor. The condition is easier to treat if diagnosed earlier. The risk of developing complications like blood clots or heart failure may also decrease.
An arteriovenous fistula may be congenital or present since birth or acquired or occurring later in life. The causes of arteriovenous fistulas include:
A healthcare provider may use a stethoscope to listen to blood flow in the legs or arms to diagnose an arteriovenous fistula. In arteriovenous fistula, the blood flow through the affected vessel makes a humming sound.
If your doctor suspects you may have a fistula, he may recommend some other tests to confirm the diagnosis. Those tests include duplex ultrasound, computerised tomography (CT) angiogram, and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA).
For a small arteriovenous fistula that does not cause any other healthcare problems, the only treatment required is close monitoring by a health care provider as most of them resolve by themselves without treatment. For the fistulas that require treatment, an ultrasound-guided compression, catheter embolisation, or surgery may be recommended.