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      Citrate anticoagulation versus systemic heparinisation in continuous venovenous hemofiltration in critically ill patients with acute kidney injury: a multi-center randomized clinical trial


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          Because of ongoing controversy, renal and vital outcomes are compared between systemically administered unfractionated heparin and regional anticoagulation with citrate-buffered replacement solution in predilution mode, during continuous venovenous hemofiltration (CVVH) in critically ill patients with acute kidney injury (AKI).


          In this multi-center randomized controlled trial, patients admitted to the intensive care unit requiring CVVH and meeting inclusion criteria, were randomly assigned to citrate or heparin. Primary endpoints were mortality and renal outcome in intention-to-treat analysis. Secondary endpoints were safety and efficacy. Safety was defined as absence of any adverse event necessitating discontinuation of the assigned anticoagulant. For efficacy, among other parameters, survival times of the first hemofilter were studied.


          Of the 139 patients enrolled, 66 were randomized to citrate and 73 to heparin. Mortality rates at 28 and 90 days did not differ between groups: 22/66 (33%) of citrate-treated patients died versus 25/72 (35%) of heparin-treated patients at 28 days, and 27/65 (42%) of citrate-treated patients died versus 29/69 (42%) of heparin-treated patients at 90 days (P = 1.00 for both). Renal outcome, i.e. independency of renal replacement therapy 28 days after initiation of CVVH in surviving patients, did not differ between groups: 29/43 (67%) in the citrate-treated patients versus 33/47 (70%) in heparin-treated patients (P = 0.82). Heparin was discontinued in 24/73 (33%) of patients whereas citrate was discontinued in 5/66 (8%) of patients (P < 0.001). Filter survival times were superior for citrate (median 46 versus 32 hours, P = 0.02), as were the number of filters used ( P = 0.002) and the off time within 72 hours ( P = 0.002). The costs during the first 72 hours of prescribed CVVH were lower in citrate-based CVVH.


          Renal outcome and patient mortality were similar for citrate and heparin anticoagulation during CVVH in the critically ill patient with AKI. However, citrate was superior in terms of safety, efficacy and costs.

          Trial registration

          Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00209378. Registered 13 th September 2005.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13054-014-0472-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Citrate anticoagulation for continuous venovenous hemofiltration.

          Continuous venovenous hemofiltration (CVVH) is applied in critically ill patients with acute renal failure for renal replacement. Heparins used to prevent circuit clotting may cause bleeding. Regional anticoagulation with citrate reduces bleeding, but has metabolic risks. The aim was to compare the safety and efficacy of the two. Randomized, nonblinded, controlled single-center trial. General intensive care unit of a teaching hospital. Adult critically ill patients needing CVVH for acute renal failure and without an increased bleeding risk. Regional anticoagulation with citrate or systemic anticoagulation with the low-molecular weight heparin nadroparin. End points were adverse events necessitating discontinuation of study anticoagulant, transfusion, metabolic and clinical outcomes, and circuit survival. Of the 215 randomized patients, 200 received CVVH per protocol (97 citrate and 103 nadroparin). Adverse events required discontinuation of citrate in two patients (accumulation and clotting) of nadroparin in 20 (bleeding and thrombocytopenia) (p < 0.001). Bleeding occurred in 6 vs. 16 patients (p = 0.08). The median number of red blood cell units transfused per CVVH day was 0.27 (interquartile range, 0.0-0.63) for citrate, 0.36 (interquartile range, 0-0.83) for nadroparin (p = 0.31). Citrate conferred less metabolic alkalosis (p = 0.001) and lower plasma calcium (p < 0.001). Circuit survival was similar. Three-month mortality on intention-to-treat was 48% (citrate) and 63% (nadroparin) (p = 0.03), per protocol 45% and 62% (p = 0.02). Citrate reduced mortality in surgical patients (p = 0.007), sepsis (p = 0.01), higher Sepsis-Related Organ Failure Assessment score (p = 0.006), and lower age (p = 0.009). The efficacy of citrate and nadroparin anticoagulation for CVVH was similar, however, citrate was safer. Unexpectedly, citrate reduced mortality. Less bleeding could only partly explain this benefit, less clotting could not. Post hoc citrate appeared particularly beneficial after surgery, in sepsis and severe multiple organ failure, suggesting interference with inflammation.
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            Citrate vs. heparin for anticoagulation in continuous venovenous hemofiltration: a prospective randomized study.

            To compare the efficacy and safety of adjusted-dose unfractionated heparin with that of regional citrate anticoagulation in intensive care patients treated by continuous venovenous hemofiltration (CVVH). Prospective, randomized, clinical trial in a 32-bed medical and surgical ICU in a university teaching hospital. ICU patients with acute renal failure requiring continuous renal replacement therapy, without cirrhosis, severe coagulopathy, or known sensitivity to heparin. Before the first CVVH run patients were randomized to receive anticoagulation with heparin or trisodium citrate. Patients eligible for another CVVH run received the other study medication in a cross-over fashion until the fourth circuit. Forty-nine circuits (hemofilters) were analyzed: 23 with heparin and 26 with citrate. The median lifetime of hemofilters was 70 h (interquartile range 44-140) with citrate anticoagulation and 40 h (17-48) with heparin (p=0.0007). One major bleeding occurred during heparin anticoagulation and one metabolic alkalosis (pH=7.60) was noted with citrate after a protocol violation. Transfusion rates (units of red cells per day of CVVH) were, respectively, 0.2 (0.0-0.4) with citrate and 1.0 (0.0-2.0) with heparin (p=0.0008). Regional citrate anticoagulation seems superior to heparin for the filter lifetime and transfusion requirements in ICU patients treated by continuous renal replacement therapy.
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              Regional citrate versus systemic heparin anticoagulation for continuous renal replacement in critically ill patients.

              We determined the effect of regional citrate versus systemic heparin anticoagulation for continuous renal replacement therapy in critically ill subjects suffering from acute renal failure who were not at high risk for hemorrhagic complications. Between April 1999 and June 2002, 30 critically ill subjects requiring continuous renal replacement therapy and using 79 hemofilters were randomly assigned to receive regional citrate or systemic heparin anticoagulation. The median hemofilter survival time was 124.5 hours (95% CI 95.3 to 157.4) in the citrate group, which was significantly longer than the 38.3 hours (95% CI 24.8 to 61.9) in the heparin group (P < 0.001). Increasing illness severity score, male gender, and decreasing antithrombin-III levels were independent predictors of an increased relative hazard of hemofilter failure. After adjustment for illness severity, antithrombin-III levels increased significantly more over the period of study in the citrate as compared to the heparin group (P= 0.038). Moreover, after adjustment for antithrombin-III levels and illness severity score, the relative risk of hemorrhage with citrate anticoagulation was significantly lower than that with heparin (relative risk of 0.14; 95% CI 0.02 to 0.96, P= 0.05). Compared with systemic heparin anticoagulation, regional citrate anticoagulation significantly increases hemofilter survival time, and significantly decreases bleeding risk in critically ill patients suffering from acute renal failure and requiring continuous renal replacement therapy.

                Author and article information

                Crit Care
                Critical Care
                BioMed Central (London )
                16 August 2014
                16 August 2014
                : 18
                : 4
                : 472
                [ ]Department of Nephrology, VU University medical center, Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1117, Amsterdam, 1081 HV The Netherlands
                [ ]Departments of Intensive Care, Rijnstate hospital, Arnhem, The Netherlands
                [ ]Haga hospital, Den Haag, The Netherlands
                [ ]Spaarne hospital, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands
                [ ]Medical center Alkmaar, Alkmaar, The Netherlands
                [ ]VU University medical center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                [ ]Erasmus medical center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
                © Schilder et al., licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                : 2 February 2014
                : 23 July 2014
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                Emergency medicine & Trauma
                Emergency medicine & Trauma


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