Better Dialysis Access

Better Dialysis Access

Patients with kidney failure must often have hemodialysis one or more times each week to assist their kidneys in filtering waste products out of their blood streams. The dialysis filtering process usually takes place at an ambulatory care facility, takes several hours, and requires two needles—one in a vein and another in an artery. Some hemodialysis patients have a catheter grafted to a vein so the needle doesn’t have to be reinserted every time.

The HeRO Vascular Access Device from Eden Prairie–based Hemosphere is an alternative access device for patients who have frequent blood infections due to the catheter or have found that other access devices don’t work for them. “This device is targeted specifically at those catheter-dependant patients that are often struggling with infection multiple times a year,” says Michelle Loher, former marketing manager at Hemosphere. “That costs the hospital and the health care system almost $25,000 every time one of these patients is infected.”

Patients are under general anesthesia or sedation during the HeRO implantation. The device can last up to two years, which is comparable to the life of a conventional graft and significantly longer than tunneled dialysis catheters.

“The biggest challenge right now to patients seeking the device is finding a qualified surgeon, because we train every surgeon,” Loher says. Hemosphere implanted its 200th device in February and plans to start selling HeRO internationally in 2010.