Background: The clearance of middle molecules in high-flux hemodialyzers is due to the higher contribution of convection in the overall solute transport. Although net filtration can be maintained low by the machine control, internal filtration in the proximal part of the dialyzer remains high. The final fluid balance is achieved by significant amounts of backfiltration in the distal part of the dialyzer. To increase further middle molecule clearance (MMK), hemodiafiltration has been used. This technique, however, requires complex machines and large amounts of substitution fluid. We present a novel solution to increase the convective transport of middle molecules in high flux dialyzers without the need for substitution fluids. In particular, high-flux dialyzers with a reduced hollow fiber diameter are compared with standard dialyzers in terms of internal filtration and solute clearances.
Methods: Hemodialyzers with 175 micro inner diameter polysulfone fibers were compared with standard 200 micro polysulfone hollow fiber dialyzers. The study was carried out in vitro using a previously published method to measure internal filtration and backfiltration rates. The method is based on the detection by a gamma camera of segmental variations in concentration along the length of the dialyzer of a nondiffusable Tc99-labeled marker molecule injected in the blood in vitro circuit. At the same time, pressures were detected in the blood and dialysate compartment. The system was operated at zero net filtration maintaining volumetrically constant both dialysate and blood circuits. In vivo clearances were also measured for solutes with different molecular weight.
Results: The pressure drop in the blood compartment at 300 mL/min of blood flow passed from 112 to 159 mm Hg. At the same blood flow, the internal filtration-backfiltration rates increased from 23. 1 to 48.2 mL/min. This resulted in a significant increase of in vivo in clearances of vitamin B12 and inulin of more than 30%. Urea, creatinine, and phosphate clearance did not display any change.
Conclusions: A reduction of the inner diameter of the hollow fibers in high-flux dialyzers may result in a significant increase of the blood compartment resistance. In turn, this results in increased rates of internal filtration and backfiltration. The practical effect in clinical dialysis is demonstrated on middle molecules. While, in fact, the clearances for small solutes such as urea and creatinine are not affected, the clearances of larger solutes such as vitamin B12 or inulin increase significantly (P < 0.01).