Wearable Kidney May One Day Replace Dialysis

Portable device would revolutionize treatment for thousands, researchers say

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THURSDAY, Aug. 20, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- 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 say.

The portable device, which weighs about 10 pounds and is powered by two 9-volt batteries, would enable patients to undergo continuous, gentle dialysis as they go about their daily activities, according to a report published online Aug. 20 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Preliminary tests of the wearable artificial kidney have been successful, the researchers stated in a news release from the American Society of Nephrology.

"However, the long-term effect of this technology on the well-being of dialysis patients must be demonstrated in much-needed clinical trials," Dr. Victor Gura, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in the news release.

If it does prove successful, the device could lead to a "paradigm change" in dialysis treatment, the researcher says. Currently, dialysis patients face major inconvenience and high rates of hospitalization and death. More than 400,000 people in the United States undergo dialysis at a cost of more than $30 billion a year.

"We believe that the wearable artificial kidney will not only reduce the mortality and misery of dialysis patients, but will also result in significant reduction in the cost of providing viable health care," Gura said.

More information

The U.S. National Kidney Foundation has more about dialysis.

SOURCE: American Society of Nephrology, news release, Aug. 20, 2009

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