New vascular access handbook intends to provide dialysis patients with answers “once and for all”

vascular access handbook gemav
Ramon Roca-Tey

At the 12th Congress of the Vascular Access Society (VAS; 6–9 April 2021, online), Ramon Roca-Tey, senior consultant in nephrology at the Fundación Sanitaria Mollet’s Hospital de Mollet in Barcelona, ​​Spain, and president of the Spanish Multidisciplinary Group for Vascular Access (GEMAV), presented audiences with the ‘Vascular access handbook for people with kidney disease’—noting that, with this handbook, “a need has finally been met”. Following the congress, Roca-Tey spoke to Renal Interventions to discuss this educational tool in more detail.

Briefly, what is the vascular access handbook?

With this handbook, we have tried to develop a really useful and practical tool for people with kidney disease. It is about transmitting information to these people in a simple and clear way so that they can resolve any doubts they may have regarding vascular access for haemodialysis.

Why was it introduced?

It was introduced to adapt the most important aspects of the 2017 Spanish Clinical Guidelines to the reality of people with kidney disease. This handbook aims to help people with kidney disease so that they can find the answers to some aspects of vascular access for haemodialysis once and for all.

What is the “unmet need” you feel the handbook fulfills?

Some people with kidney disease are not aware of the importance of vascular access for haemodialysis and the care it requires. I think the handbook can help a lot in this regard.

The handbook uses minimal text, non-technical language and many illustrations—why is this?

In order for the handbook’s information to be understood correctly by as many people as possible, we have included a minimal amount of text, making it as colloquial as possible while avoiding technical words. We have also included many illustrations—because an image is worth a thousand words—as well as nine educational videos.

Could you outline the “active role” the patient plays within the multidisciplinary team?

The handbook underlines that the patient with kidney disease is at the centre of the multidisciplinary team and, therefore, is also responsible for their own fistula care. This concept is present in almost all handbook sections.

How has the handbook helped dialysis patients who have used it?

We have had a lot of feedback. For example, some people mistakenly thought—before reading the handbook—that, during native fistula surgery, they would have a device fitted. Other people were unaware of the fistula maturation procedures or how to care for their venous catheter.

How important do you think the handbook could prove to be for physicians?

I think it will also be very important for physicians, as it will help prevent many complications related to vascular access, such as fistula thrombosis and catheter infection.

Who is the handbook currently available to?

Both Spanish and English versions of the handbook are available free of charge to everyone on the GEMAV website ( In Spain, we have obtained funding to print this handbook so that each of the 25,000 prevalent haemodialysis patients in the country will receive a paper copy of it.

Why did you decide to translate the handbook into English?

So that it can reach the largest possible number of people with kidney disease around the world.

Are there any future plans for the handbook right now that you could outline?

Yes, it is already being translated into other languages—specifically, French, Polish, Swedish and Hebrew—and has also been uploaded to the websites of the many scientific societies that have endorsed it, including VAS, the American Society of Diagnostic and Interventional Nephrology (ASDIN), and the European Kidney Patients’ Federation (EKPF).

How will the handbook impact dialysis care?

I hope that it will help as much as possible to overcome challenges in vascular access for people with kidney disease—both in the present and in the future.


vascular access handbook gemav
Vascular access handbook

Images used with permission from the author.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here