Dialysis service now available from the VMC

As part of our continuing effort to be a helpful extension of your practice, The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) will soon be providing a dialysis program utilizing the PrismaFlex dialysis system.

As is most commonly known, dialysis, in its traditional form, is used to clear the blood of uremic toxins, allowing the patient time for the kidneys to heal from the insult. In some instances, it is time that heals all. But in other situations, dialysis can also provide the additional time needed for the antibiotics to treat the infection, or as one example, allow stabilization of the animal in preparation for surgery to remove an obstructing ureterolith.

The dialysis machine can also be used to do more than treat kidney disease. If a pet has ingested a toxic compound or received a drug overdose, the dialysis process may be able to remove the substances much faster than the animal’s normal metabolism. Depending on the substance ingested, it may be readily removed by standard dialysis, or the blood may be percolated over a form of activated charcoal to bind the toxin. Typically only one or two treatments are needed to treat intoxications. Speedy referral is of the essence, however, just as it is with other methods of decontamination.

Plasmapheresis can also be done with the dialysis machine, but only to remove “dirty” plasma. The plasma can’t be collected for transfusion with this technology. If there are large amounts of immunoglobulins causing disease, such as with myasthenia gravis, plasmapheresis can remove those, temporarily alleviating signs hopefully long enough for your immunosuppressive therapy to start working.

When to consider dialysis

The VMC recommends considering dialysis in the following situations:

•Acute kidney injury of any cause

•Oliguria or anuria


•Acute intoxications (please check with the dialysis team to see if dialysis is indicated)

•Select immune diseases (myasthenia gravis, some immune-mediated hemolytic anemia cases)

Please note, the VMC is not set up for treating chronic kidney disease at this time, but we are hoping to be able to offer in the near future.

Frequency of dialysis treatments

It is important to note that while each individual dialysis treatment may be only 4 to 8 hours long, treatment is needed daily to every other day until kidney function returns. Most patients are hospitalized for 2 to 4 weeks.

For further information about the program, please contact Dr. Cathy Langston at Langston.35@osu.edu or 614-292-3551. You may also contact the VMC internal medicine or critical care team at 614.292.3551, if you have a case you feel could benefit from dialysis.

We look forward to assisting you with your patient care.