Dialyzers: Reusable or for single-use only?

Dialyzers are used during hemodialysis, a procedure used to purify the blood of a patient whose kidneys are malfunctioning. When kidneys stop performing their usual functions of blood purification and urine generation, the dialyzers serve as the replacement.  Therefore, they are also known as artificial kidneys.

In a hemodialysis procedure, patients are required to sit for multiple treatment sessions. As dialyzers are used in each sitting, there’s a debate as to whether they can be reused or should be used once? Let’s see both cases one by one.

Dialyzer Reuse

The idea of reusing dialyzers is being implemented because of certain benefits to both doctors and patients. Firstly, reusing dialyzers can have a positive effect on finances helping the clinic/hospitals get savings. Secondly, an environmental benefit as less number of dialyzers will result in lack of biomedical waste. There was another benefit of reusing dialyzers which have now been debunked. Earlier, due to the high price of high-flux dialyzers, reusing them led to cost-efficiencies. However, as economical high-flux dialyzers are now available, reusing them aren’t necessary.

Regardless of the benefits, there are specific health threats connected with reusable dialyzers. One of the significant hazards is for both doctors and patients who can be exposed to concentrations of germicides from reused dialyzers or the water treatment system. Both parties can also be susceptible to low accumulation of germicide remains present inside the dialyzers which can lead to adverse long-term health problems.

Single-use Dialyzer

In recent times, the type of dialyzers made for single-use is being used more than their reusable counterparts. Technological advancements have made the manufacturing of single-use dialyzers easier thus increasing their availability. Single-use dialyzers allow clinics and medical establishments to cut personnel expenses which can lead to decreased operational costs. Hospitals don’t have to spend on training technicians, maintenance for safe and sterilized rooms and other recurring expenditures.

More importantly, single-use dialyzers are safe to use as patients, and doctors are at lower risk of getting infected by germicides and denatured blood particles. There are fewer chances of errors and setbacks as well. However, on the flipside, there have been some first-use reactions after patients underwent hemodialysis procedures with single-use dialyzers. The reactions were a result of ethylene oxide. Although first-time reaction occurrences have decreased in number due to new sterilization processes, such cases called for the need of appropriate preprocessing techniques before using dialyzers for the first time.

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