Respiratory Dialysis Could Replace Mechanical Ventilation
An innovative device overcomes the limitations of mechanical ventilation by performing respiratory gas exchange via blood dialysis in the femoral or jugular veins, removing half of retained CO2 while administering oxygen.
The Hemolung Respiratory Assist System offers a superior alternative to invasive mechanical ventilation by effectively supplementing lung function through a single small catheter, removing up to 50% retained carbon dioxide (CO2) from the blood, while simultaneously delivering oxygen directly to the patient’s blood. Since the device eliminates the need for intubation, sedation, and tracheostomies, patients will also benefit from a reduced length of stay in the intensive care unit (ICU), reduced incidence of ventilator-assisted pneumonia (VAP), reduced airway wall damage, and the elimination of the ventilator-weaning period.
Among the additional benefits of the device, when compared to invasive mechanical ventilation, is elimination of sedation, allowing the patient to stay alert, eat, and communicate. It is also expected to replace or supplement mechanical ventilation in the ICU in a broad range of patients suffering from acute respiratory failure, including those with emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, acute respiratory failure (ARF) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), congestive heart failure (CHF) with pulmonary edema, and neonatal respiratory distress syndrome. The Hemolung Respiratory Assist System is a product of ALung Technologies (Pittsburgh, PA, USA; www.alung.com), and is pending European Community CE Mark approval following a clinical trial in Germany involving 20 patients.
“ALung has the potential to improve care greatly for the target patient group over the current methods used in intensive care units, achieving both improvements in clinical outcomes and major savings in cost of care,” said Peter DeComo, Chairman and CEO of ALung. “Today’s health care community is focused on the principal goals of reducing health care costs and improving patient care. Our device – which can eliminate a very large expenditure of money and human resources while improving outcomes for patients – will therefore be extremely relevant.”
Currently, 450,000 patients in the United States alone are ventilated each year for temporary, acute, or acute-on-chronic respiratory failure. With ICU care estimated in the US at US$5,000-7,000 per day, the Hemolung is expected to greatly reduce hospital costs through its ability to reduce ICU length of stay. Further cost savings are expected to be realized through the elimination of sedation expenditures and a reduction in adverse outcomes such as VAP, estimated at greater than $125,000 per incident.