When a person or small animal’s kidneys are injured, stressed, or fail, renal replacement therapy can create a life-saving bridge until kidney function recovers (or, in some human cases, a donor organ is secured). In horses similar treatment generally isn’t an option, and renal failure is devastating.

To investigate the possibility of developing a viable solution for horses suffering kidney injury or disease, David M. Wong, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVECC, of Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center, in Ames, decided to investigate the use of renal replacement therapy in equids.

He presented the results of his study, “Renal Replacement Therapy in the Horse: A Viable Clinical Option?” at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum held June 12-15 in Seattle, Wash.

Renal Replacement, the Cliff Notes Version

Kidneys are organs of the urinary system that provide essential regulation of electrolytes, blood-pressure (salt and water balance), and acid-base balance as they filter waste from the blood and expel it through the urine.

Wong explained that renal replacement therapy includes artificial techniques that mimic or augment kidney function, typically in the clinical setting of acute renal failure (ARF). The goals of treatment include:

  • Maintaining fluid, electrolyte, acid-base, and solute balance;
  • Preventing further kidney insult;
  • Promoting healing and renal recovery; and
  • Permitting supportive measures (i.e., nutrition) to proceed without limitation.

These techniq