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Development of a technology to measure body fluid distribution in patients to improve dialysis treatment effieciency and patient comfort

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Better monitoring of body fluids during haemodialysis

Haemodialysis (HD) is a procedure that artificially takes on the function of the kidneys when they can no longer do their jobs. EU-funded researchers are developing a simple device that could minimise discomfort and complications during dialysis for a large and vulnerable population requiring the procedure.


Healthy kidneys ‘clean’ or filter the blood, removing waste, excess fluids and salt. In addition, they maintain a balance of certain ions such as potassium and sodium and also help to maintain blood pressure through a combination of all the previous functions. HD is a complicated although standard procedure involving movement of a tremendous volume of blood. It typically must take place several times a week. Monitoring and controlling fluid volumes in the body during dialysis is currently difficult, resulting in acute complications related to haemodynamic instability in nearly a fourth of all dialysis patients during treatment. These instabilities are accompanied by tremendous discomfort, fainting and vomiting, and require long periods of recovery. Currently, there are no available methods to monitor fluid distribution online with significant accuracy. Researchers on the Haemoscan project set out to create a non-invasive bio-impedance sensor system capable of sampling blood in the HD line and correlating measurements with impending hypotension crises of the type mentioned above, thus enabling modification of dialysis conditions and avoidance of complications. Preliminary results indicated a clear difference in body shift behaviour in patients fitted with the Haemoscan device. Further analysis should determine correlations between HD line pressure and bio-impedance measurements, enabling calibration of the device. Bringing the Haemoscan system to market has the potential to drastically improve the lives of a large and vulnerable population. In addition, the system could boost the competitiveness of European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a field dominated primarily by large multinationals and delivering primarily treatment-based instrumentation.

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