Reducing symptoms during hemodialysis by continuously monitoring the hematocrit

Am J Kidney Dis. 1996 Apr;27(4):525-32. doi: 10.1016/s0272-6386(96)90163-8.


Previous studies have demonstrated that patients on hemodialysis develop intradialytic symptoms when the blood volume decreases to a critical level. Using a continuous monitor (CRIT-LINE; In-Line Diagnostics, Riverdale, UT) to determine the instantaneous hematocrit and blood volume, we observed that certain intradialytic symptoms occurred at a patient-specific hematocrit. In the present study, we exploited this hematocrit threshold concept to decrease the occurrence of lightheadedness, cramping, and nausea, regardless of blood pressure changes. In the first phase of the study, hematocrit threshold was established in six hypotension-prone patients. Five patients entered into the second phase in which ultrafiltration rates were increased 25 percent above prescribed values at the beginning of the experimental sessions. Subsequently during the experimental sessions, ultrafiltration rates were manipulated to maintain the instantaneous hematocrit value 2 units below the established hematocrit threshold. Sessions without ultrafiltration rate adjustments based on hematocrit served as controls. There were no differences between experimental (n = 27) and control (n = 28) sessions with respect to treatment time (230 minutes v 229 minutes), fluid volume removed (3,351 mL v 3,383 mL), and maximum percentage change in systemic blood pressure (-26 percent v -24 percent). However, there were less symptoms during the experimental sessions (26 percent v 57 percent; P = 0.038). These data suggest that a twofold reduction in intradialytic symptoms can be achieved using continuous hematocrit monitoring without altering treatment times or volume removed in hypotension-prone patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Volume
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Hematocrit*
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / statistics & numerical data
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Renal Dialysis / instrumentation
  • Renal Dialysis / methods
  • Renal Dialysis / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors