Simplifying at-home dialysis

A new machine could transform the lives of kidney disease sufferers by making it easier for them to perform their own dialysis treatment at home and no longer make trips to the hospital three times a week.

Although some renal units in hospitals have managed to implement some successful home haemodialysis programmes using standard equipment, these machines are complex, large and heavy.

This has left patients with limited options on where to install the system, a problem the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded Devices for Dignity (D4D) co-operative wanted to address.

The co-operative, led by clinical director Prof Wendy Tindale, has brought together experts from the hydraulics industry and the NHS to develop a new machine and formed a new company – Quanta Fluid Solutions – which will market it.

The Quanta haemodialysis machine uses a cartridge to mix the water and salt solutions required to generate the fluid required for dialysis. Although it produces the fluid in small amounts, it is able to match the flow rates of a standard machine so that patients receive exactly the same treatment they would in a hospital. As the cartridge is disposable, the need for disinfecting the fluid pathways of the machine after each dialysis is eliminated.

The machine will be undergoing regulatory tests and trials later this year. If all goes well, staff and patients at the Sheffield Kidney Institute, Sheffield University’s Nephrology Unit and at Leeds Teaching Hospitals will be starting a clinical evaluation early next year.

It is anticipated that the system will be launched in the UK in late 2011, after which it will be made available to dialysis patients via their local renal units in the NHS Trusts that have home programmes.