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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether premature clotting of haemofiltration circuits could be related to heparin removal across the filter membrane into the ultrafiltrate. DESIGN: Randomised study using either unfractionated (n = 8) or low molecular weight (n = 7) heparin for anticoagulation of the haemofiltration circuit at 1000 and 600 U/h respectively. Samples were drawn at 1 and 2 h from arterial and venous limbs of the haemofilter circuit for measurement of plasma heparin (as anti-Factor Xa activity), antithrombin III and haematocrit. Ultrafiltrate samples were collected at the same time for measurement of anti-Xa activity. SETTING: Intensive care unit. PATIENTS: Patients in acute renal failure requiring haemofiltration. RESULTS: Both unfractionated and low molecular weight heparin plasma levels were within the range required for therapeutic anticoagulation in all but one patient at 2 h. Ultrafiltrate anti-Xa levels were insignificant. Antithrombin III levels in these critically ill patients were subnormal in 11 of the 15 studies. CONCLUSIONS: Despite their small sizes, neither unfractionated nor low molecular weight heparins cross the haemofilter membrane into the ultrafiltrate in any measurable quantity. Both heparins were present in plasma at a level suitable for therapeutic anticoagulation. Subnormal levels of antithrombin III may be an important factor in determining filter longevity.


Journal article


Intensive Care Med

Publication Date





212 - 215


Acute Kidney Injury, Adult, Aged, Antithrombin III, Arteries, Blood, Critical Illness, Drug Monitoring, Factor Xa Inhibitors, Female, Hematocrit, Hemofiltration, Heparin, Humans, Male, Metabolic Clearance Rate, Middle Aged, Molecular Weight, Time Factors, Veins