Background: Intradialytic morbid events (IME, mostly hypotension) mainly due to ultrafiltration-induced hypovolaemia still are the most frequent complication during haemodialysis (HD). This study was performed to test the hypothesis that there is an individual critical relative blood volume (RBV(crit)) in IME-prone HD patients.
Methods: In this prospective international multicentre study, 60 IME-prone patients from nine dialysis centres were observed during up to 21 standard HD sessions without trial-specific intervention. The RBV was monitored continuously by an ultrasonic method (BVM; blood volume monitor). Also, the ultrafiltration rate was registered continuously. Blood pressure was measured at regular intervals, and more frequently during IME. All IME and specific therapeutic interventions were noted.
Results: In total, 537 IME, some with more than one symptom, were documented during 585 HD sessions. The occurrence of IME increased up to 10-fold from the start to the end of the HD session. RBV(crit) showed a wide inter-individual range, varying from 71 to 98%. However, the intra-individual RBV limit was relatively stable, with an SD of <5% in three-quarters of the patients. In patients with congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, advanced age, low ultrafiltration volume and low diastolic blood pressure, higher values of RBV(crit) were observed. While all correlations between RBV(crit) and patient characteristics alone were found to be of weak or medium strength, the combination of diastolic blood pressure, ultrafiltration volume and age resulted in a strong correlation with RBV(crit): the linear equation with these parameters allows an estimation of RBV(crit) in patients not yet monitored with a BVM.
Conclusions: An individual RBV limit exists for nearly all patients. In most IME-prone patients, these RBV values were stable with only narrow variability, thus making it a useful indicator to mark the individual window of haemodynamic instabilities.