Effect of hemodialysis on whole blood viscosity

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The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of hemodialysis procedures on the hemoconcentration status of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients.


We measured whole blood viscosity (WBV) of 30 ESRD patients using a scanning-capillarytube viscometer before and after hemodialysis. The blood sample size required for WBV measurements was approximately 3 mL. Pre-dialysis specimens for viscosity measurements were obtained via the fistula needle or Perma catheter prior to initiating hemodialysis, and post-dialysis specimens were drawn from the arterial sample port of the hemodialysis line 3.5 hours after initiation of dialysis treatment.


Changes in WBV were measured at high and low shear rates: 80% of patients showed an increased high shear viscosity, whereas 73% of patients demonstrated an increased low shear viscosity. The actual percentage increase in WBV observed after hemodialysis at high and low shear rate ranges varied broadly in the 30 patients.


The observed increase in the WBV of ESRD patients over hemodialysis procedures indicates that a segment of patients experience increased flow resistance, particularly at the microcirculatory level. In addition, for the segment of patients experiencing marked increases in WBV during hemodialysis, the vessel wall at the dialysis fistula is exposed to blood with a higher viscosity than at the beginning of the process. The higher blood viscosity at the dialysis fistula is directly related to increased kinetic force and shear stress on the vessel wall, which may be playing a role in increasing the risk of stenosis. (Int J Artif Organs 2009; 32: 329-35)

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