Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 260–265 | Cite as

Citrate vs. heparin for anticoagulation in continuous venovenous hemofiltration: a prospective randomized study

  • Mehran MonchiEmail author
  • Denis Berghmans
  • Didier Ledoux
  • Jean-Luc Canivet
  • Bernard Dubois
  • Pierre Damas



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).

Design and setting

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.

Measurements and results

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.


Hemofiltration Renal replacement therapy Citrate Heparin 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mehran Monchi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Denis Berghmans
    • 1
  • Didier Ledoux
    • 1
  • Jean-Luc Canivet
    • 1
  • Bernard Dubois
    • 1
  • Pierre Damas
    • 1
  1. 1.General Intensive Care and Department of NephrologyUniversity HospitalLiegeBelgium

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