Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Device to Cut down Dialysis Risk

    Johns Hopkins University graduate students have invented a device to reduce the risk of infection, clotting and narrowing of the blood vessels in patients who need blood-cleansing dialysis because of kidney failure.

    The device, designed to be implanted under the skin in a patient's leg, would give a technician easy access to the patient's bloodstream and could be easily opened and closed at the beginning and end of a dialysis procedure.

    The students learned about the need for such a device last year while accompanying physicians on hospital rounds as part of their academic program. They watched as one doctor performed a procedure to open a narrowed blood vessel at a kidney patient's dialysis access site. They learned that this narrowing was a common complication facing kidney patients.

    To address these problems, the students developed an access port that can be implanted in the leg beneath the skin, reducing the risk of infection. The Hemova Port's two valves can be opened by a dialysis technician with a syringe from outside the skin. The technician can similarly close the valves when the procedure is over, an approach that helps avoid infection and clotting. The device also includes a simple cleaning system, serving as yet another way to deter infections.

    Currently, most dialysis access sites are in the arm or the heart. The Hemova device instead is sutured to the leg's femoral vein, avoiding the unnaturally high blood flows that cause vessel narrowing when dialysis machines are connected to veins and arteries in the arm.

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