Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy in Pets

April 25, 2019

Continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) may be a mouthful to say, but it’s also a beneficial treatment for pets who have accidentally overdosed on a medication or ingested a toxic substance. Like dialysis, CRRT is used to remove toxins and waste from the blood. It is most often used to treat acute kidney injury, but it can also help to manage acute-on-chronic kidney disease and to extract toxins and drugs from the blood.

When is continuous renal replacement therapy in pets beneficial?

CRRT can benefit the same pets that would benefit from dialysis, but this procedure is gentler on the body. While dialysis takes place over a 3- to 4-hour period, CRRT occurs over a 24- to 48-hour timeframe. CRRT is better tolerated than dialysis by patients who are hemodynamically unstable because fluid volume, electrolytes, and pH are adjusted more slowly and over a longer period of time.

CRRT may benefit pets experiencing the following:

  • Fluid overload
  • Acute renal failure
  • Chronic renal failure
  • Acute-on-chronic renal failure
  • Toxin ingestion
  • Medication overdose
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Sepsis
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shock

CRRT mimics the function of the kidneys, removing toxins while limiting drops in blood pressure and changes in electrolytes, pH, and fluid balance. Overall, it is similar to dialysis but has fewer complications.

How is continuous renal replacement therapy performed?

CRRT is a complex procedure that requires highly trained staff and constant monitoring.

  • We perform a thorough physical examination. Prior to any procedure, we examine your pet from nose to tail, checking vital signs and searching for issues that may complicate the process.
  • We collect blood samples to analyze. A sample of your pet’s blood will provide a wealth of information about her health status, including the extent of the toxic waste buildup within the body, electrolyte imbalances, pH abnormalities, and fluid disturbances. Once we have this information, we’ll determine the most beneficial treatment for your pet.
  • Sedation or anesthesia is usually required. While the shorter dialysis treatment doesn’t typically require sedation, most pets are unable to stay still for this 24- to 48-hour procedure. Sedation may be necessary to prevent disturbance of equipment used during CRRT.
  • The blood is filtered through a form of dialysis. To remove waste products from the blood, we use a form of dialysis. The blood is passed through filtration tubing into a machine that removes waste products.
  • The blood is moved through a continuous renal replacement therapy unit. Once the waste products are filtered out, the blood travels through a CRRT unit. Because of poor kidney function, toxins typically excreted through the urine build up in the blood. The CRRT unit removes these toxins, performing the duties of the kidneys. Electrolyte levels are also normalized, and then the blood is returned to the pet.

Are there potential complications with continuous renal replacement therapy in pets?

While dialysis can cause multiple potential complications, pets typically handle CRRT quite well and can return to their normal lives soon after the treatment.

Interested in learning more about this innovative, life-saving procedure? Contact us for details.