Artificial kidney miniaturized so that it can be used.
An artificial kidney is a medical device that performs the function of a missing or damaged kidney, filtering the blood to remove waste products and returning it to the body. The technology behind artificial organs is constantly improving and being perfected. As of 2009, an implantable artificial kidney had not yet been developed, but researchers have been creating portable artificial kidneys, which has been an essential step in science to improve people’s quality of life.
Artificial kidneys are used when they are struggling to function correctly, but they reach a state of acute failure due to the damage they present. The most well-known and often used form is the hemodialysis machine, a piece of medical equipment that can be attached to a patient to cleanse their blood. Patients with acute renal failure may require daily hemodialysis; for treatment, it is necessary to go to a clinic that offers a procedure that can be long and expensive and frustrating for people trying to lead relatively everyday lives.
As an alternative to conventional hemodialysis, doctors have developed portable artificial kidneys that can be used as temporary measures for three days. These devices use battery power to operate and can increase the feeling of freedom for the patient, which allows conventional dialysis treatments to be avoided.
Patients are often tied to these machines two or three times a week for several hours, but a small study at the University of Washington could change all of this. The FDA has granted preliminary approval for doctors to test a portable artificial kidney that can handle dialysis while the patient continues with his everyday life.
The artificial kidney is not a small device, but it is technically portable at approximately ten kilos. Most of the components are located in a belt around the waist, but some straps help keep it up. Pumps and filtration systems can filter blood as efficiently as a dialysis machine that weighs much more.
Like a natural kidney, this equipment (WAK) filters the blood to eliminate the byproducts of human metabolic waste. In patients with late-stage renal failure, these toxic metabolites can accumulate to hazardous levels within a few days requiring hospitalization. This is one of three projects selected by the FDA to proceed with clinical trials as part of a pathway to innovation program. This initiative began in 2012 to achieve innovative health products for these patients who need them so much.