High sodium continuous veno-venous hemodialysis with regional citrate anticoagulation and online dialysate generation in patients with acute liver failure and cerebral edema

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Abstract

Introduction: Acute liver failure is associated with a high mortality rate. Induction of plasma hypertonicity with mannitol or hypertonic saline remains the cornerstone in the management of resultant cerebral edema. Significant disadvantages of this approach include poor or unpredictable control of serum sodium concentration and volume expansion, among others.

Methods: We used high sodium continuous veno-venous hemodialysis with regional citrate anticoagulation and online dialysate generation to accurately control the serum sodium in eleven patients with acute liver failure, renal failure, and cerebral edema. We used a Fresenius 2008 K/K2 machine in hemodialysis mode to deliver a blood flow of 60 ml/minute and dialysate flow of 400 ml/minute. Our previously published protocol results in complete removal of infused citrate by the dialyzer. On-line clearance calculations were used to model the time required to reach the target serum sodium.

Findings: All patients achieved serum sodium within 2 mEq/L of target without fluctuations or rebound. Nine patients survived without requiring liver transplantation and two died despite reaching the prescribed serum sodium target. We did not encounter any citrate toxicity.

Discussion: We describe a novel approach for delivering continuous osmotherapy to patients with acute liver failure, renal failure, and cerebral edema. In comparison to standard therapy, the described modality enables precise titration of serum sodium without undesirable fluctuations in extracellular fluid volume. A particular advantage is zero delivery of citrate to this vulnerable group of patients with acute liver failure.

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