Although on dialysis for sometime, still lot of patients are clue less about the best practices about reusing of a dialyzer. This results in two options -
- Deferring the decision to the doctor or technician
- Only using dialyzers one time
In the case of the first one, many patients just go by the number of reuses with the thought that the lesser the number of reuse the better dialysis they get. On the contrary, every dialysis effects the dialyzer little differently. Now a days there are dialyzer reprocessing machines which throw up technical specifications which can be used to determine if the dialyzer is good for reuse. Sometimes they might last for 20 reuses and on other times they might not be good even after 2. Hence, getting fixed on the number of dialyzers is not the right decision.
In case of the second option, the quality question doesnt arise. But its like paying high unnecessarily. The classic analogy I think of is HD televisions. Lot of people buy 32 inch HD television at a premium. But the funny thing is that at around a distance of 8-10 feet, our eyes can not actually distinguish between pixels that small and hence 32 inch HD is not different from any normal TV. What I am getting at is paying the premium is unnecessary as the gain in quality of picture is just in technicality and not in reality!
Hence many times a reused dialyzer is as good as a new one for the purpose of dialysis and hence paying a premium for a new dialyzer is not required. But before re usage make sure that all the guidelines of reusage are followed and hopefully its not done manually but using a reprocessing machine which can exactly tell if the dialyzer is good enough for reuse.
Here are few FAQs about reuse from davita’s site (one of the biggest chain of dialysis centers in the world)
What are the advantages of reuse?
Reuse can be helpful to the patient and to the planet.
Patient advantages of reuse Since each dialyzer is inspected by a reuse technician, the technician can note any blood clots in the dialyzer and alert a renal nurse. Blood clots could mean you are not getting enough heparin, which is a medicine given before and throughout hemodialysis. Heparin thins the blood to allow it to pass easily through the dialyzer and prevent it from clotting, which would reduce the dialyzer’s ability to remove wastes and fluid. Blood clots in the dialyzer may make your dialysis session less effective and can lower your Kt/V.
Environmental advantages of reuse Dialyzer reuse helps to reduce negative environmental consequences in several ways. On average, it only takes 9.6 reuse dialyzers to treat one patient for one year, versus an average of 153 single-use dialyzers. The reuse of all dialyzers in a single year would eliminate the production of up to 46 million dialyzers and reduce the amount of medical waste ending up in landfills by more than 62 million pounds.
Dialyzer reuse also reduces the amount of harmful toxins created by waste processing. In order to be properly disposed of, dialyzers first have to go through a decontamination process requiring they either be incinerated or microwaved before being sent to landfills. When dialyzers are incinerated, the process produces emissions and ash that have negative health effects on the surrounding communities. While the microwave process does not produce harmful toxins, it does nothing to reduce the amount of medical waste that ends up in landfills.
By choosing dialyzer reuse, you can dramatically reduce the negative impact on the environment. Dialyzer reuse reduces your carbon footprint, helps relieve America of its dependence on crude oil, sends less non-biodegradable waste to landfills and ultimately benefits the dialysis patient by keeping costs lower without compromising clinical outcomes.
What are the disadvantages of reuse?
If proper procedures are followed for inspecting, cleaning and disinfecting your dialyzer, you should have no problems. If the reuse procedure is not followed properly you may have problems with your Kt/V levels or a physical reaction. However, these problems are rare, and because you are being closely monitored during treatment, if these issues arise, they can be resolved quickly.
So go ahead and talk to your doctors and technicians about reusage of your dialyzers. Necessary quality need not be out of the reach of your pocket.