A practical approach to implementing incremental haemodialysis

Usama Butt, A. Davenport, S. Sridharan, K. Farrington, E. Vilar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The majority of end-stage kidney disease patients are treated with haemodialysis (HD). Starting HD can pose physical, social, and psychological challenges to patients, and mortality rates within the first 6 months are disproportionately high, with intensive HD regimens implicated as a potential factor. Starting HD with an incremental approach, taking residual kidney function (RKF) into account, potentially allows for a gentle start with reduced dialysis intensity. Dialysis intensity (session time or frequency) can then be proportionally increased as RKF reduces. This approach to starting HD has been reported in observational studies to result in better patient self-reported health quality of life and reduced costs, and now several definitive randomised controlled trials are underway comparing an incremental approach to the conventional thrice weekly paradigm. Physician concerns over the risk of inadequate dialysis, with consequent increased emergency admissions, and practical challenges of how to estimate RKF and implement incremental dialysis have impeded widespread adoption. Addressing these challenges is paramount to increasing the uptake of incremental HD. Careful patient selection lies at the heart of a successful incremental HD programme. Generally, patients with a residual urea clearance of > 3 ml/min/1.73 m2 can be considered suitable for starting with incremental HD provided they comply with fluid intake, salt and other dietary recommendations. Calculating RKF from regular interdialytic urine collections and appropriately adjusting sessional HD clearance targets are practical and conceptual challenges. In this report we aim to disentangle these complexities and provide a step-by-step guide for patient selection and adjusting dialysis sessional targets.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Nephrology
Early online date19 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 May 2024


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