A Denver-based dialysis company plans to test a new technique in Colorado Springs that, while common in Europe, has yet to be offered in the United States.
DaVita Healthcare Partners Inc. announced the beginning of a six-month dialysis trial aimed at removing larger toxin particles than the standard treatment models offered across the nation.
Should the 10-patient pilot program go smoothly at the company's north Colorado Springs clinic, DaVita could offer the technique at its facilities across the nation, said Dr. Robert Provenzano, DaVita's vice president of medical affairs who practices in Colorado Springs.
"Colorado Springs is a very unique facility," he said. "It has a very stable patient population - very skilled nurses who have experience doing this type of research."
Dialysis patients in the United States typically receive a form of treatment called hemodialysis, which filters patients' blood despite the fact that their blood and a special cleaning solution never mix, Provenzano said. The new technique - called hemodiafiltration - goes one step further by adding fluid into the blood and removing larger molecules, he said.
The goal is to see whether such a technique can bring U.S. survival rates for people on dialysis on par with those in Europe, which are higher, he said.
The company already operates in nearly a dozen other countries, and it performs hemodiafiltration in three centers in Portugal, said Ginger Pelz, a DaVita spokeswoman.
"Why don't people do it in the U.S.? It's sort of unknown," Provenzano said. "Scientists, doctors don't like changing the way they do stuff without adequate data, and there's just not adequate data. So nobody saw any strong reason to change."