A Non-Dimensional Analysis of Hemodialysis

The Open Biomedical Engineering Journal 9 July 2010 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874120701004010138



Non-dimensional analysis is a powerful approach that can be applied to multivariate problems to better understand their behaviour and interpret complex interactions of variables. It is has not been rigorously applied to the parameters that define renal dialysis treatments and may provide insight into the planning of hemodialysis treatments.


Buckingham’s non-dimensional approach was applied to the parameters that define hemodialysis treatments. Non-dimensional groups were derived with knowledge of a mass transfer model and independent of it. Using a mass transfer model, the derived non-dimensional groups were plotted to develop an understanding of key relationships governing hemodialysis and toxin profiles in patients with end-stage renal disease.


Three non-dimensional groups are sufficient to describe hemodialysis, if there is no residual renal function (RRF). The non-dimensional groups found represent (1) the number of half-lives that characterize the mass transfer, (2) the toxin concentration divided by the rise in toxin concentration without dialysis for the cycle time (the inverse of the dialysis frequency), and (3) the ratio of dialysis time to the cycle time. If there is RRF, one additional non-dimensional group is needed (the ratio between cycle time and intradialytic elimination rate constant). Alternate non-dimensional groups can be derived from the four unique groups.


Physical interpretation of the non-dimensional groups allows for greater insight into the parameters that determine dialysis effectiveness. This technique can be applied to any toxin and facilitates a greater understanding of dialysis treatment options. Quantitative measures of dialysis adequacy should be based on dimensional variables.

Keywords: Dialysis adequacy, non-dimensional analysis, dimensionless groups, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, dialysis dose, Buckingham Pi theorem, Kt/V..
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