More thorough dialysis may reduce deaths

They calculated that eight people would have to switch from regular dialysis to hemodiafiltration to prevent one death each year.

Dr. Katrin Uhlig, a kidney disease researcher from Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said she welcomed the new research.

"Our survival numbers are not great for this population," said Uhlig, who wasn't involved in the new research.

Hemodiafiltration "has some benefits in terms of the size of the molecules that you can remove, so there is some theoretical benefit that you might be removing stuff that might otherwise be harmful," she told Reuters Health.

However, she said, the cards may have been stacked against the group of people getting standard dialysis in the study, in that those patients were a bit older, on average, and more of them had diabetes.

Standard dialysis costs between $200 and $250 per session in the U.S., and even for younger adults is covered by Medicare. Maduell said hemodiafiltration is usually slightly more expensive, but not by much.

Patients in his study tended to feel better, and had fewer symptoms such as low blood pressure during treatments with that technique.

"The tolerance is equal or better with hemodiafiltration," he told Reuters Health.

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