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Streamlines of flow within an idealized AVF. The color of the lines corresponds to the speed of the blood — red is highest; blue lowest. (Peter Vincent/Imperial College London)

Researchers in the United Kingdom have found a way to redesign an artificial connection between an artery and vein, known as an Arterio-Venous Fistulae (AVF), that surgeons form in the arms of people with end-stage renal disease so the patients can receive routine dialysis. The new design may decrease the likelihood of blockages in AVF, which is a major complication of dialysis.

One problem that arises with dialysis is that the connections made between the body and a dialysis machine via an AVF frequently become blocked and fail shortly after they are created. Blood flow patterns within AVF are inherently unnatural, and it's thought that these unnatural flow patterns lead to their ultimate failure.

By using computational simulation software originally developed for the aerospace sector, the team is able to simulate and predict flow patterns in various AVF configurations. The implications of this work are tremendous, because it may now finally be possible to design an AVF with reduced failure rates, offering improved clinical outcomes for patients with kidney failure who require dialysis.

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