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Acute effect of a peritoneal dialysis exchange on electrolyte concentration and QT interval in uraemic patients

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Hemodialysis (HD) sessions induce changes in plasma electrolytes that lead to modifications of QT interval, virtually associated with dangerous arrhythmias. It is not known whether such a phenomenon occurs even during peritoneal dialysis (PD). The aim of the study is to analyze the relationship between dialysate and plasma electrolyte modifications and QT interval during a PD exchange.


In 15 patients, two manual PD 4-h exchanges were performed, using two isotonic solutions with different calcium concentration (Ca++1.25 and Ca1.75++ mmol/L). Dialysate and plasma electrolyte concentration and QT interval (ECG Holter recording) were monitored hourly. A computational model simulating the ventricular action potential during the exchange was also performed.


Dialysis exchange induced a significant plasma alkalizing effect (p < 0.001). Plasma K+ significantly decreased at the third hour (p < 0.05). Plasma Na+ significantly decreased (p < 0.001), while plasma Ca++ slightly increased only when using the Ca 1.75++ mmol/L solution (p < 0.01). The PD exchange did not induce modifications of clinical relevance in the QT interval, while a significant decrease in heart rate (p < 0.001) was observed. The changes in plasma K+ values were significantly inversely correlated to QT interval modifications (p < 0.001), indicating that even small decreases of K+ were consistently paralleled by small QT prolongations. These results were perfectly confirmed by the computational model.


The PD exchange guarantees a greater cardiac electrical stability compared to the HD session and should be preferred in patients with a higher arrhythmic risk. Moreover, our study shows that ventricular repolarization is extremely sensitive to plasma K+ changes, also in normal range.

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Correspondence to Simonetta Genovesi.

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All the procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by the local ethical committee (Studio VESPA—268.2016).

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Genovesi, S., Nava, E., Bartolucci, C. et al. Acute effect of a peritoneal dialysis exchange on electrolyte concentration and QT interval in uraemic patients. Clin Exp Nephrol 23, 1315–1322 (2019).

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