Dr. Joseph M. Perlman Advanced Plastic Surgery Centre

Although dialysis is considered a life-extending measure for people with kidney failure, blood clotting can be one of its common complications. Researchers from Stanford University’s School of Medicine announced this adverse consequence resulting from a drop in blood pressure in patients undergoing dialysis.

Lead researcher Dr. Tara Chang, MD, revealed that dialysis patients are exposed to an increased risk of blood clotting when their blood vessels are attached to a machine called the point of vascular access.

Our kidneys are responsible for clearing waste from the blood. When something’s wrong with our kidneys, most doctors resort to dialysis. In certain procedures, the blood vessel in a patient’s arm is hooked up to the vascular access machine, where the blood will flow out and into the machine. This machine will perform the kidney’s function of filtering waste in the blood. Once cleaned, the blood will be circulated back into the patient’s bloodstream.

Moreover, the researchers found out that frequent dips in blood pressure during dialysis double the risk of incurring a clotted fistula.

A decrease in blood pressure accounts for 25 percent of dialysis sessions. This statistic, Dr. Chang sees it as a motivation to further their research endeavors. “Physicians already try to avoid low blood pressure during dialysis through various means,” she says. “This is just one more good reason to continue these efforts.”

Dr. Chang is accompanied by her colleagues at Stanford: Glenn Chertow, MD, Jane Paik, PhD, Manisha Desai, PhD, and Fritz Bech, MD. The researchers were supported by the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.