Nicholas A. Hoenich
School of Clinical Medical Sciences, University of Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom.
The blood of patients treated by dialysis is repeatedly exposed to foreign materials contained in the extracorporeal circuit, within which the membrane contained in the dialyzer is the largest element. Traditionally, the membrane was considered simply as a barrier between the blood and the dialysis fluid. However, the contact is also associated with the activation of coagulation, immune and cellular pathways, and the importance of repeated contact (often broadly referred to as “biocompatibility”) has become an important clinical issue. Links between renal failure, dialysis and inflammation, and the role played by dialysis fluid has further focused on the membrane. The purpose of this paper is to review the recent developments in hemodialysis membranes, and to discuss their biocompatibility and role played in morbidity and mortality associated with dialysis treatment.
Key words: hemodialysis, biocompatibility, membrane, endotoxin
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