Baxter ShareSource System: A New Dialysis Option for You

Chronic kidney disease is a quite underestimated subject by ordinary people. This issue is much more socially extended than many people believe, and, in fact, statistics suggest that one in every hundred people may be suffering from this terrible illness today. This problem is one of the main public health issues in several countries, not only because of its disastrous health consequences and because of its high frequency in the population, but because the treatments (dialysis, eminently) to respond to this issue are usually expensive. The main consequence when it comes to chronic kidney disease is that the patient must depend on a kidney transplant or a machine to survive in his or her remaining time of life.

The only option for thousands of people around the world is to sit or lay for three or four hours connected to a machine that removes toxins from the blood system. This is the only way to filter out a series of toxins as well as the excess of fluids in the body, which the kidneys eliminate in normal conditions. This is the normal life situation of millions of patients diagnosed with renal failure who cannot afford a kidney transplant, or who, although they can actually afford it, must wait for a donor for years. The process of dialysis, in any of its forms, must be carried out for life. The body has no vacations, after all.

This therapy has two modalities: hemodialysis, which can be performed three times a week in a health center, and peritoneal dialysis, which is done daily from the home of patients, four times a day. Each month, the specialist in charge of the process monitors the treatment and the condition of each patient and, if something is not going well, he or she makes the appropriate changes to improve the therapy.

Since the end of last year, a new technology allows doctors and patients to change that traditional way of doing dialysis (in any of both ways.) We are talking about the ShareSource platform of Baxter International, a system that automatically transmits (in real time) the data on what is happening with each patient throughout the dialysis therapy. This system not only saves time and money for patients, who no longer have to travel to hospitals or other places where their therapy is carried out, but doctors permanently know if one of their patients stopped using the dialysis system at home, as well as the frequency of use and if it is working properly.

Read also: Great Alternatives to Perform Dialysis at Home, by Joe Cosgrove

This technology for remote patient management was created to improve the patient’s treatment in peritoneal dialysis, in addition to significantly increase the efficiency of hospital centers. This bidirectional communication platform is based on the cloud and is incorporated into the automated peritoneal dialysis system. It not only offers physicians a more accurate and timely visibility of the compliance of the therapy by their home patients, which, in turn, allows the identification and early intervention of possible complications, but it also allows collecting important data that can be later become useful information for new researchers on chronic kidney disease. After all, this system monitors patients permanently. Perhaps, the most positive thing about this technology is the possibility of accessing the patient’s compliance data in time, and thus manage possible clinical complications in advance.

The most common drawbacks that usually occur with dialysis are problems with the catheter performance, which is the hose used for fluid exchange. This is the main cause that usually spoils dialysis treatments. When this kind of issues are identified, the doctor has the possibility of making a prescription to solve what is going wrong with the dialysis on time and avoid hospitalizations or other health complications that may be derived from a poorly carried therapy. This also means saving money to the health system since patients get sick much less.

This may be a good option for those patients who live in remote areas and who find it difficult to travel frequently to health centers to carry out their dialysis therapies or to be checked by their doctors. Actually, thanks to this intelligent system, it is possible to reduce the frequency of medical check-ups to one every two months. This gives patients much more freedom and saves doctors a lot of time.

Video: Connectivity Platform Provides Telemedicine Capabilities for Remote Patient Management

Actually, it is a simple platform to manage, that even works like any smartphone app. There is a main menu which shows a list of patients and what has happened during the last week of treatment with each one of them and generates alerts in case of trouble (if a patient skipped a dialysis session, if there was a problem with the connection, or if there were complications in the process of eliminating toxins, for example.)

Internet and Big Data technology has revolutionized all aspects of human life, including health. In this case, it has meant a great advance, which, in an intelligent and practical way, can help to improve the quality of life of patients, as well as the job of millions of doctors.

* Featured Image courtesy of EdTech Stanford University School of Medicine at Flickr.com

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Dialysis: Almost 70 decades of hard work and progress

Like many other medical procedures and aids, dialysis has been around for a while. For the past 70 decades, it has helped thousands (if not millions) of individuals whose kidneys stopped working properly.

Kidneys can fail due to a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes genetics get in the way and make them stop working, or certain environmental conditions or experiences change the way they work and lead individuals to a kidney failure or a chronic kidney disease. This has happened to humans for as long as they have existed and it will probably keep on happening for as long as we are on earth.

Regardless the reason why kidneys fail, for those whose bodies are not able to filter the waste that runs in the blood, undergoing dialysis procedures becomes necessary.

Nowadays, this is a solution easy to picture. But, has anyone asked how we managed to make it until this point? Years of sacrifice and medical progress had to get in the way for us to be able to know dialysis as it works today.

In this article, Joe Cosgrove will share some historical facts related to dialysis.

Back in the 40’s

Dialysis is a 20th-century invention. It was first invented by Dr. Willem Kolff back in 1943 when this young doctor from the Netherlands decided to construct the first artificial kidney or dialyzer.

The process of developing this kidney was long and took Dr. Kolff more than 10 years. It started when he was a student at the University of Groningen Hospital, in his natal country. Kolff watched how a young man died in a painful and slow way because his kidneys fail and there was nothing to be done. This situation inspired Kolff and moved him to create an artifact that could work as the kidneys.

Kolff read every book available at the University’s library that talked about the kidneys and how the filtered waste from the blood. This is how bumped into an article written in 1913 by a famous pharmacologist named John Abel. In this article, Abel described the hemodialysis process in animals. Abel’s work inspired Kolff to create an artificial kidney.

When Kolff was doing his first experiments, the World War II started, forcing him to work at a Dutch hospital in a remote location once the Nazis overtook the country. This hard conditions never stopped him and he kept on working on the artificial kidney project.

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Image courtesy of rob koopman at Flickr.com

Eventually, he came up with a device made with sausage skin, a washing machine, orange juice cans and other items that would allow him to filter waste from the blood. His invention took place under the Nazi domain and risking his life to make it possible.

By 1943, Kolff’s kidney was finished and ready to be tested. Until 1945, 16 patients were treated unsuccessfully. It wasn’t until that same year that a woman with a uremic coma was successfully treated and regained consciousness.

This is how Kolff’s dialyzer became the first one in history successfully used to treat kidney diseases. It became part of the standard treatment for kidney failure for the next 10 years.

There is hope in the 50’s

In the years to come, Kolff’s invention was improved to treat both acute renal failure and chronic stage renal disease. This was a rough path since most doctors in the 50’s believed that patients with kidney problems couldn’t undergo dialysis for long periods of time and that no man could come up with an artificial kidney that could replace the functions of a real one.

Another challenge that had to be faced back then was the strong damage veins and arteries of patients were suffering. This makes hard for patients to take the treatment for long periods of time.

It wasn’t until Professor Dr. Belding Scribner at the University of Washington came up with the idea of connecting plastic tubes to the dialyzer, and inserting one of these tubes into the patient’s arteries and veins, that would remain open for as long as the treatment lasted. These tubes had the shape of a U that would work as a bypass.

Later in time, this device was improved with a new material called Teflon and operated as a dialysis bypass that allowed patients to be treated for longer periods of time, extending their lives until an organ was available for a transplant.

From the 60’s to today

Dialysis Machine_Dialysis on children_joe cosgrove

Image courtesy of Amber Case at Flickr.com

Dialysis patients became numerous and facilities couldn’t serve all of them. Committees would decide who was going to dialysis and who had to wait. This is how bioethics committees were created and healthcare treatments became fairly available for many individuals who needed them. Portable dialysis machines were created and people could undergo dialysis at their homes.

During the past five decades, dialysis machines have been improved by technology. Kidney medicine has also evolved in a way kidney conditions can be treated with multiple alternatives. Some people use the peritoneal dialysis treatment and some other decide to undergo the hemodialysis one. Regardless the options, it is thanks to doctors like Kolff and Scribner that dialysis treatment became real.

The mildly-invasive procedure that helps end-stage renal disease patients

As previously described by Joe Cosgrove, there are several stages of renal disease; there are, in fact, different treatments for each patient. However, to all those patients currently undergoing hemodialysis after being diagnosed with end-stage renal disease, unrestrained and free blood circulation is practically the whole world for them.

hospital_operating room_renal disease

Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

The process of hemodialysis, as previously mentioned in this blog is all about having a machine replace an individual’s kidneys. It mimics the human kidney function by pumping blood from an individual’s body all the way through a series of tubes, thusly cleansing it by getting rid of all the accumulated waste so that it can be returned to the body via an additional tube. This machine, also commonly referred to as a hemodialyzer, requires an additional procedure in order to create an easy access into the patient’s blood flow. When a vein or an artery develops a blockage while providing or carrying blood from or to an individual’s dialysis access area—which is usually a leg or an arm—, the process becomes less efficacious and successful, and, in turn, patients are more prone to experience all sorts of difficulties.

Nonetheless, an almost minimally invasive treatment for all those patients who require long-term management of vein access while undergoing dialysis has been developed. The procedure, also known as an angioplasty and stent, poses a very good opportunity for all those individuals who have to undergo the dreary effects of being on dialysis. It is, in short, the perfect opportunity to improve an individual’s quality of life.

In America, there are up to 470,000 people who have any sort or degree of irreversible kidney failure or end-stage renal disease. Most of them need as soon as possible either constant dialysis or, even worse, a transplant in order to survive. The vast majority, all those patients undergoing dialysis, require somewhat of an additional maintenance procedure: either an angioplasty and stent—the process being described in this article—, or a balloon angioplasty. They are required to undergo this additional procedure up to twice a year in order to keep the body with a proper and adequate blood flow to access the entry area.

The main issue relies on a physician’s ability to perform successful percutaneous interventional procedures, or, better said: any catheter-based interventional proceeding. If an individual is to improve their quality of life when undergoing this type of dialysis heavily relies on this. Prior to developing catheter-based procedures, individuals suffering from any degree of end-stage renal disease would come into operating rooms for different procedures such as open procedures that would leave patients weak, thusly making the healing process long and dreary, not to mention that patients would need to stay at the clinics. That was, of course, not the best case scenario for those individuals on dialysis thrice or four times a week. This serves as the most plausible and accurate explanation for such high dropout rates: it was quite easy, not to say understandable, for them to abandon the process.

Additionally, all of these catheter-based proceedings allow physicians to easily and seamlessly access any sort of blockage or narrowing (also known as stenosis) that could be reached through another process or routine operation. In the past, many of these blockages ended up being untreated due to the impossibility for a physician to access them; however, as a result, the scientific community decided to create a much better dialysis access with its own blood flow so that blockages would be left untreated.

This mildly-invasive procedure, in term of time, seems to be a much fitter choice for individuals under the aforementioned conditions. Patients require only a few hours of their time in the clinic. Not to mention that the outcome surpasses in adaptability the old-fashioned way: it is much more adaptable and adequate to an individual’s lifestyle. After several trials in the past, patients seem to be much happier in comparison with the resulting outcome of the old way.

woman_health_happiness

Image courtesy of Julian Jagtenberg at Pexels.com

During the procedure, or, rather, during its course, physicians must accurately determined whether they are facing a blockage or a narrowing. This suggests that the procedure demands a lot of decision-making skills from a nephrologist. They must also determine the degree of the scenario they are facing: how severe it is and, most importantly, which seems to be the best way to open it and, moreover, keep it open. In addition, they also have to ponder what catheter they need or seem to be more adequate for that specific case; however, be that as it may, patients, regardless of complications—everything has got complications and physicians are required to avoid them—, the possibility of improving an individual’s quality of life is compelling enough for them to consider consulting with their primary nephrologist. Dialysis and renal disease are perhaps amongst the least satisfactory scenarios; however, there have been many developments and advancements regarding this topic: today, people have more than just one option to treat their conditions.

* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com