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Arizona Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Center

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Extracorporeal Services

Hemodialysis & Extracorporeal Therapies

AVECCC Gilbert and our sister hospital ARISE Veterinary Center in Queen Creek are proud to offer extracorporeal blood purification therapies (ECT). We are one of only two veterinary facilities in Arizona that provide this service, and the only facility that offers ECT on an emergency basis. The most common modalities utilized at our facilities are hemodialysis and therapeutic plasma exchange.

Prismaflex Machine

How Hemodialysis Works and is Applied in Veterinary Medicine

The kidneys filter waste products and maintain fluid balance. When they don't function properly, waste can build up in the bloodstream resulting in uremia. Hemodialysis is a medical procedure that uses an artificial kidney to remove waste and toxins from the blood, restoring electrolyte balance and acid-base balance. This is the most effective treatment option for uremia, acute renal failure, overhydration, or acute toxicities not responding to other treatments.

Indications for Hemodialysis

Hemodialysis provides a new standard of care for animals with diseased kidneys as well as a variety of other clinical conditions for which there are no effective medical alternatives, including:

  • Severe acute kidney injury

  • Acute poisoning (toxin specific – see Therapeutic Plasma Exchange page)

  • Severe overhydration and fluid overload

  • Severe electrolyte derangements

  • Severe chronic renal failure (not offered at this facility)

Veterinarian with Girl, Boy & Dog

Timing of Dialysis Initiation:

The exact timing of the initiation of dialysis is a controversial topic, although the reasons behind it are easy to define. However, commencing dialysis earlier in the disease process can lead to better outcomes by preventing the adverse systemic effects of uremia. Therefore, dialysis should not be seen as a last resort or salvage procedure.

Goals of Dialysis:

Acute kidney injury is the most common use of hemodialysis in veterinary patients. Hemodialysis extends the window of opportunity for renal repair indefinitely. Dialysis does not fix the kidney injury per se, it simply provides the injured kidney time to repair. It is often this lack of time and subsequent clinical decline from uremia that unfortunately results in euthanasia in veterinary medicine. Hemodialysis is a viable alternative.

Veterinarians with a Golden Retriever

Length of Treatment and Prognosis:

The length of treatment is difficult to determine as it depends on the cause of the acute renal injury and the degree of renal damage. However, clients should be emotionally and financially prepared for on average 2-5 sessions over 1-3 weeks. The prognosis, similarly, varies depending on the cause of the acute renal injury as well as comorbid conditions, therefore, the risks/benefits of commencing dialysis need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.