Haemodialysis with on-line monitoring equipment: tools or toys?Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2005 Jan; 20(1):22-33.ND
On-line monitoring of chemical/physical signals during haemodialysis (HD) and bio-feedback represents the first step towards a 'physiological' HD system incorporating adaptive and logic controls in order to achieve pre-set treatment targets.
Discussions took place to achieve a consensus on key points relating to on-line monitoring and bio-feedback, focusing on the clinical applications.
The relative blood volume (BV) reduction during HD can be monitored by optic devices detecting the variations in concentration of haemoglobin/haematocrit. BV changes result from an equilibrium between ultrafiltration and the refilling capacity. However, BV reduction has little power in predicting intra-HD hypotensive episodes, while the combination of the patient-dialysate sodium gradient, the relative BV reduction between the 20th and 40th minute of HD, the irregularity of the profile of BV reduction over time and the heart rate decrease from the start to the 20th minute of HD predict intra-HD hypotension with a sensitivity of 82%, a specificity of 73% and an accuracy of 80%. A bio-feedback system drives the relative BV reduction according to desired values by instantaneously changing the ultrafiltration rate and the dialysate conductivity. This system has proved to reduce the incidence of intra-HD hypotension episodes significantly. Ionic dialysance and the patient's plasma conductivity can be calculated easily from on-line inlet and outlet dialysate conductivity measurements at two different steps of dialysate conductivity. Ionic dialysance is equivalent to urea clearance corrected for recirculation and is a tool for continuously monitoring the dialysis efficiency and detecting early problems with the delivery of the prescribed dose of dialysis. Given the strict and linear relationship between conductivity and sodium content, the conductivity values replace the sodium concentration values and this permits the development of a conductivity kinetic model, by means of which sodium balance can be achieved at each dialysis session. The conductivity kinetic model has been demonstrated to improve intra-HD cardiovascular stability in hypotension-prone patients significantly. Ionic dialysance is also a useful tool to monitor vascular access function, as it can be used to obtain serial measurements of vascular access blood flow. On-line urea monitors provide detailed information on intra-HD urea kinetics and delivered dialysis dose, but they are not in widespread use because of the costs related to the disposable materials (e.g. urease cartridge). The body temperature monitor measures the blood temperature at the arterial and venous lines of the extra-corporeal circuit and, thanks to a bio-feedback system, is able to modulate the dialysate temperature in order to influence the patient's core body temperature, which can be kept at constant values. This is associated with improved intra-HD cardiovascular stability. The module can also be used to quantify total recirculation.
On-line monitoring devices and bio-feedback systems have evolved from toys for research use to tools for routine clinical application, particularly in patients with clinical complications. Conductivity monitoring appears the most versatile tool, as it permits quantification of delivered dialysis dose, achievement of sodium balance and surveillance of vascular access function, potentially at each dialysis session and without extra cost.