The study involves hemodialysis, a type of artificial kidney treatment where the blood is cleaned by a kidney dialysis machine. It is the most common form of dialysis. It is also known as chronic dialysis therapy because the patient's kidneys have permanently failed, requiring dialysis for the rest of their lives.
Michael Rocco, M.D., the national principal investigator, said the issue to be studied is important, because "the death rate of patients receiving chronic dialysis therapy in the United States remains unacceptably high, in the range of 15 to 20 percent per year."
The study, paid for by a $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will involve at least 10 clinical centers in the United States and Canada, including Wake Forest Baptist. The study will enroll at least 150 patients with chronic kidney disease, half randomized to six-times-per-week overnight home hemodialysis, and the other half getting the standard three-times-a-week hemodialysis in a dialysis center.
Rocco, professor of internal medicine-nephrology, said it is the first time that the NIH has paid for a study involving dialysis other than the standard three times per week. Overnight home hemodialysis is different in two important ways from standard hemodialysis provided in the center, he said. First, the patient receives dialysis six times per week instead of three times per week, so there is less buildup of the toxins ordinarily removed by healthy kidneys. Second, the patient is on dialysis for six to nine hours overnight at home instead of three to five hours at a dialysis center.