Hemodialysis and Extracorporeal Therapies

About Hemodialysis at AMC

The Animal Medical Center is proud to offer hemodialysis and extracorporeal blood purification therapies for dogs and cats, one of only a small number of veterinary facilities in the world that offer these therapies.

Extracorporeal blood purification therapies, including hemodialysis and therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE), have transformed veterinary medicine by allowing for the treatment and recovery of patients that have high mortality rates associated with their disease. Identifying candidates for extracorporeal therapies and discussing these treatment options with pet parents early in the disease process may improve outcomes for these patients.

—Nahvid Etedali, DVM, DACVIM, Head of Hemodialysis and Extracorporeal Therapies Service at AMC

Hemodialysis

Hemodialysis is a specialized treatment that supplements kidney function when the kidneys stop working due to toxicity, infection, or other disease. Blood is removed from the body, filtered through a dialyzer, then returned to the patient. This process is repeated over several hours during a single dialysis treatment. A custom treatment plan is created for each dialysis patient, and the number of treatments depends on the patient’s kidney recovery. If hemodialysis is successful and the kidneys recover, the patient can return to normal activities without ongoing hemodialysis treatments.

Therapeutic Plasma Exchange

Therapeutic Plasma Exchange (TPE) separates a patient’s blood plasma from their red blood cells. Plasma contains blood proteins, including antibodies, which can be a source of immune-mediated diseases. TPE is most-commonly used in veterinary medicine for the treatment of immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA). IMHA can be a fatal disease, as it causes a pet’s immune system to destroy its own red blood cells. TPE allows veterinarians to remove the offending antibodies and gain control of the disease. TPE is often a first-line therapy for animals with severe IMHA unresponsive to blood transfusions or medical therapy. TPE can also be used to manage other immune-mediated diseases such as Lyme-associated nephritis, immune-medicated thrombocytopenia, and myasthenia gravis. Both hemodialysis and TPE can also be used for the treatment of certain life-threatening drug toxicoses, such as accidental ibuprofen ingestion.