Breakthrough in treatment of patients with kidney failure; UMC Utrecht study
A study led by UMC Utrecht researchers revealed that a newer dialysis method called high-dose hemodiafiltration can decrease the mortality risk in kidney failure patients by 23% compared to traditional treatment, UMC Utrecht announced on Friday. This new method, which removes more waste products than normal dialysis, could drastically reshape dialysis practices worldwide.
Hemodialysis is the most widely used dialysis method, used in 80% of patients by the end of 2021. Despite this treatment, there is a 10% annual death rate among kidney patients dependent on hemodialysis.
Dialysis machines are currently less effective than healthy kidneys at eliminating waste products, since a healthy kidney functions 24 hours a day, whereas a dialysis machine three times a week, four hours per session.
The newer high-dose hemodiafiltration method can remove more waste products within the same time frame as hemodialysis, using a pressure differential along with diffusion to filter out waste, which makes it more efficient.
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Friday confirmed that this new method leads to a significant increase in life expectancy, reducing the risk of death by 23 percent compared to standard treatment.
The study, led by scientists from UMC Utrecht and funded by the European Union, was conducted in eight European countries by eight research institutes at 61 medical centers. Some 1,360 patients with kidney failure were randomly assigned to hemodiafiltration or dialysis. The risk of death between the two treatment groups was then compared.
The findings have been welcomed by many in the medical community. Utrecht research leader and nephrologist Peter Blankestijn hailed the method as "an important step forward," noting that the treatment is not overly complex. "This dialysis therapy has the same frequency and duration as hemodialysis, namely 4 to 5 hours three times a week," he explained. "It is therefore easy to apply in practice.
This new method could affect thousands of patients in the Netherlands and millions worldwide, particularly as the number of kidney patients is expected to grow with an aging population. While kidney transplants offer a long-term solution for some, many have to remain dependent on dialysis.