Background: Several effects of hemodialysis, including hemoconcentration, alterations of hemostasis or hemorheology and endothelial activation, could potentially interfere with cerebral blood flow (CBF) regulation. These treatment-specific changes may also be crucial for the enhanced incidence of stroke in uremic patients. Nevertheless, the influence of hemodialysis on CBF has not been yet adequately studied.
Patients and methods: We registered mean blood flow velocity (MFV) in the middle cerebral artery (MCA) during hemodialysis treatment in order to evaluate its contribution on CBF changes. Transcranial Doppler ultrasonography (TCD) of the MCA was performed continuously during hemodialysis treatment in 18 stable patients (10 males and 8 females, mean age 62 +/- 11 years) with end-stage renal disease of various origin. Blood pressure (mmHg), heart rate (/min), ultrafiltration volume (ml), BV changes (deltaBV by hemoglobinometry, %), arterial blood gases (pO2, blood oxygen content, pCO2), hemostasis activation (thrombin-antithrombin III complex, ELISA) and fibrinogen (Clauss) were measured simultaneously at the beginning of treatment and every hour thereafter.
Results: Before the hemodialysis session the MFV in the MCA was within normal range (57.5 +/- 13.0 cm/s, ref. 60 +/- 12) and was mainly dependent on the patients' age (r = -0.697, p < 0.01). The blood flow velocity in the MCA decreased significantly from 57.5 +/- 13.0 cm/s before the beginning to 48.3 +/- 11.1 cm/s after four hours (n = 18, p < 0.05) and to 43.9 +/- 8.9 cm/s after five hours (n = 9, p < 0.05) of hemodialysis treatment. During hemodialysis treatment, the percentual changes of MFV in the MCA (delta%MFV) were interrelated to the ultrafiltration volume (r = -0.486, p < 0.01), the blood volume (BV%, r = 0.369, p < 0.01) and the percentual changes of the hematocrit (r = -0.358, p < 0.01), of the arterial blood oxygen content (delta%acO2, r = -0.420, p < 0.01) and of the plasma fibrinogen levels (delta%fibrinogen, r = 0.244, p < 0.05).
Conclusion: A significant continuous decrease of the MFV in the MCA was observed during hemodialysis treatment, which inversely correlated both with ultrafiltration volume, BV changes and changes of plasma fibrinogen. The ultrafiltration-induced hemoconcentration with concomitant rise of hematocrit and oxygen transport capacity, may partly explain the alterations in the cerebral MFV observed during hemodialysis.