There is currently no universally accepted method to monitor circuit function or guidelines for circuit replacement during continuous renal replacement therapies (CRRT). The objectives of this study were to diagnose the causes of circuit failure, identify factors responsible for circuit clotting and determine a predictive monitor of circuit function. The CRRT technique used in this study was continuous venovenous haemodialysis (CVVHD). Continuous monitoring of circuit pressures (pre- and post-haemofilter and their difference: the transfilter pressure gradient) was used to diagnose the causes of circuit failure. In circuits ceasing due to clotting, the factors thought to contribute, anticoagulation, haematocrit and platelet count, were measured at the commencement of CVVHD and every eight hours thereafter until circuit failure. Monitors of circuit function, creatinine clearance and plasma to diafiltrate urea ratio were measured every eight hours and compared to the transfilter pressure gradient. During a three-month period data was collected on five consecutive patients (41 consecutive haemofilters). Clotting of the haemofilter (63%) and air detection chamber (7.5%) were the most common identifiable causes of circuit failure. The duration of their circuit life was described using multiple regression analysis, i.e. hours of filter life=-82.8 + (Δ platelet count × 0.25) + (Δ haematocrit × 3.6) + (circuit flow [ml/min] × 4) R2 = 0.77. A rise in transfilter pressure gradient and a fall in haemofilter function discriminated clotted filters with falling function (decrease in creatinine clearance and urea ratio) from unclotted filters. In any circuit an increase of 26 mmHg or more in the transfilter pressure gradient accurately predicted circuit failure due to clotting and imminent cessation of function. Increases in platelet count, haematocrit, and low circuit flows are important determinants of haemofilter life. The measurement of transfilter pressure gradient across the haemofilter is an accurate bedside monitor of circuit function.
- Critical care: continuous renal replacement therapies, dialysis, circuit pressures, monitoring, clotting