January 27, 2011

Drug Prevents Infections in Dialysis Patients

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The drug rt-PA may prevent infection in kidney dialysis patients, according to a new study.

People with kidney failure undergo hemodialysis -- a treatment that cleans out their blood. Often, a catheter is required. However, catheter malfunction is a complication that involves blood clots forming at the catheter tip as well as infections in the bloodstream. The drug heparin is used as a locking solution in the catheter after dialysis to help prevent malfunction and keep the catheter working longer.

Researchers conducted a study at 11 sites across Canada. They looked at 115 hemodialysis patients who were administered heparin (the usual catheter locking solution) after every dialysis session and 110 patients who received rt-PA once a week.

Investigators found that patients receiving only heparin were twice as likely to suffer a catheter malfunction and were at an almost three-fold increased risk of having a bloodstream infection.

"We now have evidence that we can prevent these complications using rt-PA, with a goal to ultimately improve outcomes for patients with kidney failure," Dr. Brenda Hemmelgarn, from the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine, January, 2011