In general, patients with End Stage Renal Disease are dialyzed 3 times per week for about four hours each time. Observational studies have associated long dialysis intervals with an excess risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease hospitalizations, and on the other hand a rather new study has suggested that daily dialysis might improve left-ventricular mass and health-related quality of life. Therefore the idea to implement a more frequent dialysis schedule seems appealing.
However is a more frequent schedule really efficient, e.g. beneficial and economically justifiable? Prof. Carmine Zoccali, NDT Editor-in-Chief took the task to analyze the pros and cons on this matter and to draw a conclusion. His review can be read in the January edition of NDT.
As Zoccali points out, there might be a benefit on mortality but, on the other hand, a more frequent (e.g. alternate) hemodialysis might increase the risk of arteriovenous fistula problems and, thus, increase the disease burden. The impact on the outcome has not yet been proven, emphasized Zoccali: "Evidence that these regimes are beneficial mainly derives from observational studies and the possibility that the same regimes are harmful cannot be excluded". As long as new data is missing, there is no need to change dialysis schedules. "Only in problematic patients we should think about pro-actively applying more frequent HD regimes".