The advantages and challenges of increasing the duration and frequency of maintenance dialysis sessions

Nat Clin Pract Nephrol. 2009 Jan;5(1):34-44. doi: 10.1038/ncpneph0979. Epub 2008 Nov 25.


The duration and frequency of hemodialysis was determined empirically when this therapy first came into use, and treatment was commonly three 8 h sessions per week by the end of the 1960s. Subsequently, however, the growing number of patients who required this therapy had to be reconciled with the shortage of equipment; therefore, dialysis time was decreased to three 4 h sessions per week. At the same time, on the basis of data from the first randomized controlled trial of dialysis -- the National Cooperative Dialysis Study -- Kt/V(urea) was devised as the optimum measure of dialysis adequacy. Nowadays, although Kt/V(urea) targets are fulfilled in an increasing number of patients, observational studies show that individuals on hemodialysis continue to experience a high rate of complications, including hypertension, left ventricular hypertrophy, cardiac failure, hyperphosphatemia, malnutrition and death. Although no randomized controlled trial has yet been published, observational data indicate that increasing hemodialysis time and/or frequency improves a number of these complications, especially the death rate. This Review outlines the advantages of longer and/or more frequent dialysis sessions and highlights the barriers to adoption of such regimens, which largely relate to economics, patient willingness, and organization of dialysis units.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Phosphates / blood
  • Renal Dialysis / methods*
  • Time Factors


  • Phosphates