Anticoagulation in continuous renal replacement therapy

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Continuous renal replacement therapies (CRRTs) allow for gradual solute and fluid removal. In very sick patients with acute renal failure, they may be better tolerated than hemodialysis. The major drawback to CRRTs is the need for anticoagulation to maintain filter patency. The patients who are likely to benefit from CRRTs are also at higher risk for bleeding from systemic anticoagulation. The most commonly used form of anticoagulation for CRRTs, low-dose heparin, causes bleeding in 10-50% of patients. Regional anticoagulation using protamine may reduce the risk of bleeding, but it is difficult to use. Low molecular weight heparin and prostacyclin both may partially reduce bleeding, but are difficult to dose. Regional anticoagulation with citrate is easy to use and has been shown to prolong filter life without systemic anticoagulation. It is the anticoagulant of choice for most patients on CRRT.

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