Studies show nighttime or daily dialysis may improve patients' health


Frequent and longer dialysis treatments may provide more benefits for patients than conventional dialysis treatments, according to several studies appearing in upcoming issues of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. The findings suggest that daily or nightly dialysis sessions at home or in the clinic are viable—and perhaps superior—alternatives for some patients with kidney failure.

Several groups of researchers set out to test whether more frequent dialysis would be more effective than traditional dialysis. Their findings are summarized below.

Eric Weinhandl of the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation and his co-investigators compared survival of 1,873 daily home dialysis patients using the NxStage System One between 2005 and 2008 with 9,365 thrice-weekly in-center hemodialysis patients. Over an average period of 1.7 to 1.8 years, daily home dialysis patients were 13% less likely to die than thrice-weekly clinic patients, and the survival benefit of daily home dialysis appeared to apply to all types of patients (different sexes, races, weights, etc.). “Whether these results apply to all hemodialysis patients needs further study because patients in our analysis were generally younger and less sick,” said Weinhandl.

Gihad Nesrallah, MD, Rita Suri, MD of the University of Western Ontario, in London, Canada, and their team compared 338 patients who received intensive home hemodialysis, during the day or night, for an average of 4.8 sessions per week and an average treatment time of 7.4 hours per session with 1,388 patients who received conventional hemodialysis. After following patients for an average of 1.8 years, the researchers found that patients receiving intensive dialysis were 45% less likely to die than patients receiving conventional dialysis. “Whether this improvement in survival is due to increased intensity of dialysis itself or due to the fact that the intensive dialysis patients performed their own dialysis treatments at home is not yet clear,” said Suri.

Eduardo Lacson, Jr., MD, of Fresenius Medical Care North America and his colleagues studied the health of 746 patients who received hemodialysis treatments at a clinic for three nights per week and for an average of eight hours per night, compared with 2,062 similar patients who received conventional hemodialysis treatments. During a two-year follow-up period, patients who received nighttime dialysis had a 25% reduced risk of dying compared with conventional dialysis. Nighttime dialysis patients also experienced improvements in certain measures such as lower weight, blood pressure, and blood phosphorous levels. “This comparison primarily evaluated the impact of the length of treatment time on hemodialysis because patients were all dialyzed in the center and at the same frequency of three times per week,” said Lacson. “Longer treatment time allows for removal of fluid and waste products at a slower pace, but with the added benefit of potentially removing larger quantities from the body.”

John Daugirdas, MD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and his team analyzed data from two studies, the Frequent Hemodialysis Network Daily and Nocturnal Trials, which compared frequent (six times per week) treatments received during the day or at night, with conventional dialysis. Daugirdas and his colleagues looked to see if more frequent dialysis treatments could help lower patients’ blood phosphorus levels. Compared with conventional dialysis treatments, daily or nightly dialysis treatments for 12 months lowered patients’ phosphorus levels and reduced their need for phosphorus-lowering medications.

The four articles appear online at

More on longer dialysis: “In the US, per the DOPPS study (Saran R et al, Kidney Int. 2006, 69:1222-28), the average treatment time was just 211 minutes (3.5 hours), vs. 232 minutes in Europe (3.86 hours) and 244 minutes in Japan (4 hours). In that study, getting a minimum of 4 hours of treatment improved survival by 30%–and each extra 30 minutes beyond that further improved survival by another 7%. I’ve seen that survival on dialysis in Japan is triple that of the US, and in Europe it is double.”

And: “In Japan and Germany, one of the pay for performance targets for dialysis is that 85% of dialyzors must be getting at least 4 hours of treatment 3x/week (this would translate to 2 hours x 6 days a week).”

Gee, Plugger, there’s a shock. Who’d have thunk that more dialysis would be better? :wink: Thank you for taking the time to post these studies–we appreciate it!

You’re welcome! Maybe if we keep stating the obvious, it will become obvious. (How long have I heard this? Only since the year 2000!)