Does Home Dialysis Work?

Study will compare it to clinic-based dialysis for kidney failure patients

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FRIDAY, March 19, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A two-country study will compare the effectiveness of overnight home-based dialysis to treatment in dialysis centers for people with chronic kidney failure.

The study, which will involve at least 10 clinics in the United States and Canada, will study whether six-times-a-week home dialysis at night works as well or better than three-times-a-week dialysis in a center. The study will enroll at least 150 people with chronic liver failure. Half will receive the home dialysis and half will go to a dialysis center.

All the study volunteers will be on hemodialysis, where the blood is cleaned by a kidney dialysis machine. This is the most common form of dialysis.

This is an important issue, says lead investigator Dr. Michael Rocco, a nephrologist at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

"The death rate of patients receiving chronic dialysis therapy in the United States remains unacceptably high, in the range of 15 to 20 percent per year," Rocco says in a prepared statement.

He says there are a number of important differences between overnight home dialysis and standard clinic-based dialysis. At home, patients receive dialysis six times a week instead of three times per week. That means they have less buildup of toxins that are ordinarily removed by healthy kidneys.

When it's done at home, patients are on dialysis for six to nine hours overnight compared with three to five hours at a dialysis center.

"The result of this longer time on dialysis is that the dose or intensity of the home dialysis is two to three times greater than the dose provided by standard in-center dialysis," Rocco says.

He and his colleagues will study whether this higher dose of dialysis will improve patients' blood pressure, blood counts, diet, quality of life and time they spend in hospital.

The study, which received a $3.3 million grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, will start accepting patients in the fall of 2004.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about hemodialysis.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University School of Medicine, news release, March 2004

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