Intradialytic Cerebral Hypoperfusion as Mechanism for Cognitive Impairment in Patients on Hemodialysis

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2019 Nov;30(11):2052-2058. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2019050461. Epub 2019 Sep 11.


The high frequency of cognitive impairment in individuals on hemodialysis is well characterized. In-center hemodialysis patients are disproportionately affected by cognitive impairment compared with other dialysis populations, identifying hemodialysis itself as a possible factor. The pathophysiology of cognitive impairment has multiple components, but vascular-mediated cerebral injury appears to contribute based on studies demonstrating increased cerebral ischemic lesions and atrophy in brain imaging of patients on hemodialysis. Patients on hemodialysis may be at increased risk for cerebral ischemic injury disease due to vasculopathy associated with ESKD and from their comorbid diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes. This review focuses on the intradialytic cerebral hypoperfusion that can occur during routine hemodialysis due to the circulatory stress of hemodialysis. This includes a review of current methods used to monitor intradialytic cerebral perfusion and the structural and functional cognitive outcomes that have been associated with changes in intradialytic cerebral perfusion. Monitoring of intradialytic cerebral perfusion may become clinically relevant as nephrologists try to avoid the cognitive complications seen with hemodialysis. Identifying the appropriate methods to assess risk for cerebral ischemic injury and the relationship of intradialytic cerebral hypoperfusion to cognitive outcomes will help inform the decision to use intradialytic cerebral perfusion monitoring in the clinical setting as part of a strategy to prevent cognitive decline.

Keywords: cerebral perfusion; cognitive impairment; hemodialysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Ischemia / complications*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Perfusion
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial


  • Oxygen