The clinical evaluation of low-dose heparin in haemodialysis: a prospective study using the heparin-coated AN69 ST membrane

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The AN69 ST haemodialysis membrane, a new membrane resulting from coating polyethyleneimine upon the polyacrylonitrile surface, binds heparin. In patients at risk of bleeding, a pilot study has demonstrated the efficient anticoagulant effect of this heparin-coated membrane.

Study design

In chronic haemodialyzed patients, we evaluated whether this anticoagulant effect can be validated in a controlled, prospective, open study. Pragmatically, we tested the hypothesis of no difference of the massive clotting rate in two groups of patients haemodialyzed either with 50% reduced standard doses of nonfractionated heparin using the heparin-coated AN69 ST or with a full dose of heparin (100%) using another type of dialysis membrane that does not bind heparin. Secondary objectives included evaluation of partial clotting, changes in haemoglobin levels, erythropoietin consumption and dialyzer performances.


One hundred and eighty-four patients were elected and 170 finally included in an 18-month follow-up study. They were allocated to one of the two arms of the study. In the heparin-reduced group (n=85, mean age: 73 ± 11 years), 12 472 sessions were performed after priming the AN69 ST dialyzer with 2 L of heparinized saline (5000 IU/L heparin) and using 50% reduced doses of previously administered heparin. In the control group with standard heparin (n=85, mean age: 74 ± 13 years), 14 154 sessions were analysed (NS), and mean heparin doses were 2718 ± 1388 and 4800 ± 1564 IU per session, respectively (P < 0.001). In the heparin-reduced group, massive clotting occurred in 1.4 per 1000 sessions, whereas it occurred in 1.6 per 1000 sessions in the standard heparin group (P < 0.05). Mild to moderate partial clotting in the venous drip chamber and in the dialyzer was evaluated in a subset of patients, on a visual scale. It was more frequent in the experimental group than in the control group (P < 0.001). Platelets, haemoglobin levels, erythropoietin needs and dialyzer performances remained unchanged in both groups. The global mean death rate was 16.8% per year and did not differ significantly between groups.


The use of the heparin-coated AN69 ST membrane allows a 50% reduction of standard doses of nonfractionated heparin administration for routine haemo- dialysis without increasing the risk of massive clotting of the extracorporeal circuit. This result needs confirmation since massive clotting questions clinical practice and is team dependent.

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