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What Is Known and Unknown About Twice-Weekly Hemodialysis.

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license


The 2006 Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative guidelines suggest twice-weekly or incremental hemodialysis for patients with substantial residual kidney function (RKF). However, in most affluent nations de novo and abrupt transition to thrice-weekly hemodialysis is routinely prescribed for all dialysis-naïve patients regardless of their RKF. We review historical developments in hemodialysis therapy initiation and revisit twice-weekly hemodialysis as an individualized, incremental treatment especially upon first transitioning to hemodialysis therapy.


In the 1960's, hemodialysis treatment was first offered as a life-sustaining treatment in the form of long sessions (≥10 hours) administered every 5 to 7 days. Twice- and then thrice-weekly treatment regimens were subsequently developed to prevent uremic symptoms on a long-term basis. The thrice-weekly regimen has since become the 'standard of care' despite a lack of comparative studies. Some clinical studies have shown benefits of high hemodialysis dose by more frequent or longer treatment times mainly among patients with limited or no RKF. Conversely, in selected patients with higher levels of RKF and particularly higher urine volume, incremental or twice-weekly hemodialysis may preserve RKF and vascular access longer without compromising clinical outcomes. Proposed criteria for twice-weekly hemodialysis include urine output >500 ml/day, limited interdialytic weight gain, smaller body size relative to RKF, and favorable nutritional status, quality of life, and comorbidity profile.

Key messages

Incremental hemodialysis including twice-weekly regimens may be safe and cost-effective treatment regimens that provide better quality of life for incident dialysis patients who have substantial RKF. These proposed criteria may guide incremental hemodialysis frequency and warrant future randomized controlled trials.

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