Researchers develop wearable artificial kidney

HealthDay (8/20, Preidt) reported that, according to a study published online Aug. 20 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, “a wearable artificial kidney may someday make life much easier for dialysis patients by eliminating the need to spend hours on a dialysis machine at a hospital every week.” Researchers have developed and successfully tested a “portable device, which weighs about 10 pounds and is powered by two nine-volt batteries.” The device “would enable patients to undergo continuous, gentle dialysis as they go about their daily activities.” The investigators say that should the device “prove successful,” it “could lead to a ‘paradigm change’ in dialysis treatment.” Not only would it “reduce the mortality and misery of dialysis patients, but” it also would “result in significant reduction in the cost of providing viable healthcare,” the authors suggested.

MedPage Today (8/20, Neale) explained that “in a pilot study of eight patients with end-stage renal disease, published in The Lancet in 2007, an early version of the device resulted in a mean plasma urea clearance rate of 22.7 mL/min and a mean plasma creatinine clearance rate of 20.7 mL/min. The patients wore the device for up to eight hours and there were no adverse events.” In fact, “six of the patients were able to walk around.” While “the newest device has passed initial hurdles,” the investigators said that “larger clinical trials are still needed to establish its long-term safety and efficacy.” Although the study authors did not perform “a cost analysis…they said the cost of each device is expected to be less than that of current dialysis machines.” The UK’s Telegraph (8/21, Devlin) also covers the story.

Study indicates home hemodialysis may be as good as transplant in treating kidney failure. The Canadian Press (8/20) reported that, according to a study appearing in the Sept. issue of Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, “home treatment for kidney failure is just as good for survival as a patient receiving an organ transplant.” In the study, researchers from Canada’s Toronto General Hospital followed “a total of more than 1,200 patients…for up to 12 years.” After comparing “patients who were receiving hemodialysis at home at night…to patients who had received a kidney transplant from either a deceased or living donor,” the investigators found that “survival for patients on night home hemodialysis was comparable to that of patients who had received kidney transplants from deceased donors.” The authors suggested that home hemodialysis may provide “a suitable alternative for patients who may not have access to a kidney transplant.”

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