Emory Report
November 16, 2009
Volume 62, Number 11


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November 16, 2009
Institutions team up on pediatric kidney device

By Quinn Eastman

When children need kidney dialysis because of disease or congenital defects, doctors are forced to adapt adult-size dialysis equipment. No FDA-approved kidney replacement devices exist that are specifically designed for children.

To address this problem, physicians and researchers from Emory, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Georgia Tech have teamed up for a research project leading “from the laboratory bench to the basinet,” in the words of biomedical engineer Ajit Yoganathan.

The team has been awarded a Challenge grant of $1 million from the National Institutes of Health to refine a prototype kidney replacement device. Pediatrician Matthew Paden, a specialist in critical care, is the grant’s principal investigator and Yoganathan is co-investigator.

In the United States, it is estimated that at least 5,000 children per year require some form of renal replacement therapy. They may need kidney replacement therapy because of congenital defects or severe infections leading to inflammation and sepsis.

Paden says adult dialysis equipment can have a tendency to withdraw too much fluid from a pediatric patient, leading to dehydration and loss of blood pressure.

Inaccurate dialysis equipment can also result in clotting or internal bleeding. Part of the problem is that the proportion of blood required to fill up the tubes leading to and from the apparatus becomes larger as the child gets smaller, Paden says.