What is the difference between an arteriovenous (AV) fistula and an AV graft?


AV fistula and AV graft are terms that are sometimes used interchangeably, however, they are actually different. A fistula is an opening or connection between two parts of the body that are usually separate; an AV fistula is created by directly attaching a native vein to a native artery, causing the vein to strengthen for easier, repeated vascular access. An AV graft is created by using an artificial tube that is attached at one end to a vein and at the other end to an artery. A graft is often used when an AV fistula cannot be created successfully. Both fistula and graft may also be referred to as a shunt.


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