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Dialysis membranes for blood purification

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image of Frontiers of Medical and Biological Engineering

All of the artificial membranes in industrial use, such as a reverse-osmosis membrane, dialysis membrane, ultrafiltration membrane, microfiltration membrane and gas separation membrane, also have therapeutic applications.

The most commonly used artificial organ is the artificial kidney, a machine that performs treatment known as hemodialysis. This process cleanses the body of a patient with renal failure by dialysis and filtration, simple physicochemical processes. Hemodialysis membranes are used to remove accumulated uremic toxins, excess ions and water from the patient via the dialysate, and to supply (deficit) insufficient ions from the dialysate. Dialysis membranes used clinically in the treatment of patients with renal failure account for by far the largest volume of membranes used worldwide; more than 70 million square meters are used a year.

Almost all dialyzers now in use are of the hollow-fiber type. A hollow-fiber dialyzer contains a bundle of approximately 10 000 hollow fibers, each with an inner diameter of about 200 μm when wet. The membrane thickness is about 20-45 μm, and the length is 160-250 mm. The walls of the hollow fibers function as the dialysis membrane. Various materials, including cellulose-based materials and synthetic polymers, are used for dialysis membranes.

This paper reviews blood purification, hemodialysis and dialysis membranes.


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