Work aids care of kidney patients

01 September 2012

Dr Paul Cockwell

Dr Paul Cockwell

QEHB is to take part in a study to establish clearer guidance for when to begin dialysis treatment for patients whose kidneys are not functioning properly.

Dialysis is a process by which waste products are removed from the patient’s blood, usually because of poor kidney function, and it can be carried out in different ways.

Every year, around 7,000 people begin renal replacement therapy, a term which encompasses both kidney transplant and the different forms of dialysis.

However, the guidance for the best point at which to begin dialysis is not consistent or clear.

Renal function is often expressed by glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which describes the flow rate of filtered blood through the kidneys.

European guidelines recommend the minimum GFR at which a patient should start dialysis, but these guidelines also suggest beginning dialysis earlier for certain patients who do not show symptoms but have reduced GFR.

Recent studies have found that this approach is not always effective.

This study, led at QEHB by Dr Paul Cockwell, will look at two groups of patients with low GFR, and will prepare the way for a larger study observing the patients’ responses to dialysis to establish the best time to begin the treatment.

“This is an important study in that it could lay the groundwork for a bigger study to provide clearer guidelines on when patients should be starting on dialysis,” said Dr Cockwell.

“Receiving dialysis treatment is something which is essential for some patients as a result of impaired renal function, but we want better, clearer information about when the best time is to start this treatment.”