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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Nephrology 1/2018

A novel citrate-based protocol versus heparin anticoagulation for sustained low-efficiency dialysis in the ICU: safety, efficacy, and cost

BMC Nephrology > Ausgabe 1/2018
Ming Wen, Claudius Küchle, Dominik Steubl, Robin Satanovskji, Uwe Heemann, Yana Suttmann, Susanne Angermann, Stephan Kemmner, Lisa Rehbehn, Monika Huber, Christine Hauser, Christoph Schmaderer, Anna-Lena Reichelt, Bernhard Haller, Lutz Renders



The high cost, complexity of the available protocols, and metabolic complications are the major barriers that impede the clinical utilization of regional citrate anticoagulation (RCA) for sustained low efficiency dialysis (SLED) in critically ill patients. By comparing a novel protocol for SLED using 30% citrate solution with common protocol using unfractionated heparin, this study aimed to provide new insights for clinical applications of RCA.


In this retrospective study, a total of 282 critically ill patients who underwent SLED with citrate and/or heparin anticoagulation in six adult ICUs were enrolled. These patients were divided into three groups based on the anticoagulation regimens they had received during the treatment in ICU: Group 1 (Citrate) had only received treatment with citrate anticoagulation (n=75); Group 2 (Heparin) only with heparin anticoagulation (n=79); and Group 3 (Both) with both citrate and heparin anticoagulation (n=128). We compared the mortality, metabolic complications as well as cost among these groups using different anticoagulation regimens.


The in-hospital mortality did not significantly differ among groups (p> 0.1). However, three patients in heparin group suffered from severe bleeding which led to death, while none in citrate group.
Overall, 976 SLED sessions with heparin anticoagulation and 808 with citrate were analyzed. The incidence of extracorporeal circuit clotting was significantly less in citrate (5%), as compared to that in heparin (10%) (p< 0.001). Metabolic complications and hypotension which led to interruption of SLED occurred more frequently, though not significantly, in citrate (p= 0.06, p= 0.23).
Furthermore, with 30% citrate solution, the cost of anticoagulant was reduced by 70% in comparison to previously reported protocol using Acid Citrate Dextrose solution A (ACD-A).


Our results indicated that anticoagulation regimens for SLED did not significantly affect the mortality of patients. Citrate anticoagulation was superior to heparin in preventing severe bleeding and circuit clotting. The protocol adopted in this study using 30% citrate solution was safe as well as efficacious. In the meantime, it was much more cost-efficient than other citrate-based protocol.
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