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Hemodial Int. 2006 Jan;10 Suppl 1:S19-23.

Challenges and future of renal replacement therapy.

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  • 1Servicio de Nefrologia, Hospital Universitario Valdecilla, Universidad de Cantabria, Santander, Spain.


Renal community increasingly recognizes the challenges of very high mortality, morbidity and low quality of life among dialysis patients. Current hemodialysis (HD) schedule provides less than 10% of the clearance power of the natural kidneys and therefore current standard HD treatment is still a long way from providing adequate renal replacement. In the future it would be expected to improve dialysis control with the development of new technology: membranes, dialysate buffer, electrolyte concentration, system interface, arteriovenous access monitoring. Online technology must be adapted to routine HD for new prescription monitoring such as creatinine online sensing technology, sodium-specific electrode or hydrogen ion concentration. Online convective therapies offer the opportunity for a more biological renal replacement therapy increasing convective transport in order to "reproduce" glomerular function and improving small and middle molecular clearance in an economically feasible and safe way. The paradigm of thrice-weekly dialysis is faced with diminishing returns, with the possible exception of long dialysis sessions. More frequent (daily) dialysis represents a very promising tool for improving dialysis outcomes and quality of life. Future technologies for renal replacement include bioartificial kidneys based in continuous hemofiltration and bioartificial tubules. Although Phase I/II clinical trial on 10 patients with acute renal failure has been reported the procedure requires further evaluation. Organogenesis, therapeutic cloning, or cloning and organogenesis combined might in the future produce a functional and histocompatible kidney. The continuous increase in incidence and prevalence of renal-replacement therapy is a world-wide phenomenon, although the rates in Europe are still much lower than in the U.S. The increase in rates applies especially to older patients, patients with diabetes mellitus and renal vascular disease and the consequences of this important comorbidity are very important in terms of mortality.

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