Covid-19 and its impact on nephropathic patients: the experience at Ospedale “Guglielmo da Saliceto” in Piacenza

Abstract

Roberto Scarpioni and colleagues recount their experience with the Covid-19 epidemic at the Nephrology and Dialysis Center of the “Guglielmo da Saliceto” Hospital in Piacenza, where everybody is still fighting to this moment to contain the spread of the disease and face an increasingly unsustainable clinical situation. Piacenza is only 15 km away from the main cluster of cases in the country (Codogno, in the Lodi province) and, after the closure of the Hospital in Codogno, saw an escalation in the number of patients testing positive to Covid-19.

The authors describe their efforts and the practices they adopted to contain the spread of the disease among inpatients visiting the hospital’s Hemodialysis Clinic. They also reflect on some of the data available on the 25/03/2020, such as the number of patients testing positive and the mortality rate, unfortunately very high. Their aim is to help all colleagues that have yet to face this epidemic in its full force.

 

Keywords: Covid-19, coronavirus, nephropatic patients, dialysis, kidneys, Piacenza, Emilia Romagna 

A cluster of cases of a new unknown type of pneumonia was first signalled in Wuhan, China, on the 31st December. Chinese researchers later identified the cause of the infection as a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 o Covid-19 [1]. Exactly one month later, in Rome, two Chinese tourists from Wuhan were the first to test positive to the virus in Italy. The first Italian case of Covid-19 was hospitalised on the 21st February in Codogno (Lodi province), only 15 km away from Piacenza [2]. The following weeks saw an exponential increase in the number of infections, to the point that Italy is now the country that has been most heavily hit by the pandemic after China. We have more than 57.521 confirmed cases, with more than 8.256 in the Emilia Romagna region alone, where 1.077 patients have died and 721 have recovered [3].

Here we describe our own experience with the Covid-19 epidemic at the Nephrology and Dialysis Center of the “Guglielmo da Saliceto” Hospital in Piacenza, where everybody is still fighting to this moment to contain the spread of the disease and face an increasingly unsustainable clinical situation. We hope this will be useful to all colleagues that have yet to face this epidemic in its full force, as it has already happened in Emilia Romagna and Lombardia. Piacenza is only 15 km away from the main cluster of cases in Codogno and, after the closure of the Hospital there, saw an escalation in the number of patients presenting to the A&E testing positive to Covid-19 (see Fig. 1).

 

Fig. 1: Number of patients presenting to the A&E testing positive to Covid-19

 

The exponential growth in the number of nephropathic patients with a Covid-19 infection forced us straight away to adopt measures to contain the spread of the disease among inpatients visiting the hospital’s Hemodialysis Clinic. Starting from day 3 and 4 we adopted very strict measures, both when dealing with patients and between colleagues. Fortunately to date (25/03/2020) none of the doctors has been found positive to the virus, while three nurses have been found positive and have isolated at home, in good general conditions.

Inpatients’ body temperature was measured before they entered the ward; they were invited to wear face masks, wash their hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer and change their clothes and shoes. The personnel wore face masks, protective glasses and gloves, and disinfected rooms and machinery at the start of each shift [4].

At first, patients needing chronic hemodialysis were treated within the ward using CRRT (Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy) or high-volume hemofiltration (6 L/hr), with adsorbent membranes to remove inflammatory cytokines (IL-6) and endotoxins. In order to avoid contacts as much as possible, we treated two patients at a time, under the supervision of a single nurse and in the same room, separate from the rest and with its own transport system. Later, however, the high volume of patients forced us to move outside the ward to set up a new space devoted to quarantined patients. While waiting for the test results, all patients were treated as positive by medical personnel wearing face masks, goggles, gloves and overcoats. We insured a distance of at least 1-1,5 m between the beds by emptying the room of all that was not immediately necessary. One of the most difficult tasks was organising a separate transportation system, devoted solely to patients positive to Covid-19 and disinfected after each round. As for us, apart from wearing the protective gear describe above, we decided to avoid holding any staff meetings indoors.

As of today, it is extremely clear how dangerous Covid-19 is for fragile nephropathic patients: 41 of our patients on hemodialysis have been infected, 16% of the total (mean age 73±11, range 52-90 years, all white Caucasian, 31 men/10 women). The diagnosis was based on the results of the oro-rino-pharyngeal swab, wherever possible, or on the findings of the pulmonary CT. It is surprising to note that the rate of infection is the same recorded at the Renmin Hospital in Wuhan (16%) [5]; we have to consider, however, that over the first few says only symptomatic patients were tested for the virus.

Of these patients, those with a temperature and/or struggling to breathe were empirically treated with 5-OH-chloroquine and antiretroviral therapies, when considered appropriate by the infectologist. Due to the patients’ age and previous comorbidities, the mortality rate has unfortunately been very high: to date, half of the infected patients have died (18/41, 41% raw mortality). This is way higher than the rate among non-nephropathic patients in Italy (around 10%) – and an unacceptable price to pay [6].

All transplanted patients in home care (118) and those treated with peritoneal dialysis (34) were discouraged from visiting the hospital but were contacted via telephone on a daily basis by our doctors and nurses. We have currently 4 transplanted patients who tested positive to Covid-19; two of them are hospitalised at the Transplant Center in Bologna, while the others are quarantined at home and are being monitored very closely for any pharmacological interactions. Luckily, only one PD patient has tested positive so far and is also at home, closely monitored.

In line with what has been reported by a few other authors, we observed only a small percentage of Covid-19-related cases of acute kidney injury (AKI) (<3%) [7]. To date, we have 5 AKI patients that have required intensive care treatment with CRRT; 4 of them, all men with existing comorbidities whose average age is 60 and age range is 39-71, are still being treated.

Looking back, the strict containment measures that we have adopted early on have certainly helped minimise the spread of the disease, although the mortality rate has remained unacceptably high among nephropathic patents. We are now waiting for new results to shed light on the renin-angiotensin blockade as a potential functional receptor for the virus [8, 9], on the use of immunomodulating drugs inhibiting IL-6 as a mean to reduce the progression of respiratory failure and inflammation, and on the use of other antiviral medications (or perhaps even a vaccine) that may reduce the rate of infection and the prognosis, which is currently extremely negative in 8-10% of cases. While we wait to know more, however, we must invest in preventing the spread of Covid-19. Prevention through social distancing is imperative, especially for older patients with renal disease, but cannot be enforced in all cases as many of them need to come to the Center for life-saving treatment up to three times per week. The low rate of infection among patients in home care further confirms the effectiveness of self-isolation.

 

Bibliography

  1. Zhu N, Zhang D, Wang W, et al. A novel Coronavirus from patients with pneumonia in China, 2019. N Eng J Med 2020; 382(8):727-33. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2001017
  2. Carinci F. Covid-19: preparedness, decentralisation, and the hunt for patient zero. BMJ 2020; 368:bmj.m799. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m799
  3. Ministero della Salute (ultimo accesso 25/03/2020).
  4. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Interim Additional Guidance for Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 in Outpatient Hemodialysis Facilities: (ultimo accesso 15/03/2020).
  5. Naicker S, Yang C-W, Hwang S-J, et al. The Novel Coronavirus 2019 Epidemic and Kidneys. Kidney Int 2020; in press. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.kint.2020.03.001
  6. Xianghong Y, Renhua S, Dechang C. Diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19: acute kidney injury cannot be ignored. Natl Med J China 2020; epub ahead of print. https://doi.org/10.3760/cma.j.cn112137-20200229-00520
  7. Guan W, Ni Z, Yu Hu, Liang W, et al for the China Medical Treatment Expert Group for Covid-19. Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China. New Engl Journ Med 2020; https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2002032
  8. Zheng YY, Ma YT, Zhang JY, Xie X. COVID-19 and the cardiovascular System. Nat Rev Cardiol 2020; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41569-020-0360-5
  9. Perico L, Benigni A, Remuzzi G. Should COVID-19 Concern Nephrologists? Why and to What Extent? The Emerging Impasse of Angiotensin Blockade. Nephron. 2020 Mar 23:1-9. https://doi.org/10.1159/000507305

Protected: An account of the first hours of the Covid-19 epidemic at the Nephrology Unit in Lodi (Lombardy)

Abstract

Marco Farina and colleagues give us their account of the first days of the Covid-19 epidemic in the Nephrology Unit of the Ospedale Maggiore in Lodi. From the news trickling through from Codogno on the 20th of February to the hospitalization, the following day, of the first dialytic patient with signs of pneumonia, who later tested positive to the virus.

They tell us of how the hospital has been completely restructured in the wake of the epidemic, at remarkable speed and providing an example for others to follow, and the great sense self-sacrifice displayed by all medical personnel. After an overview of the clinical conditions of the 7 patients positive to the virus hospitalised in the following few days, they describe in some detail how symptomatic Covid+ patients are currently managed at the Ospedale Maggiore in Lodi.

 

Keywords: Covid-19, Ospedale Maggiore di Lodi, nephrology, dialysis

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Protected: Clinical and social advantages of remote patient monitoring in home dialysis

Abstract

Introduction. Home dialysis (both extracorporeal and peritoneal) can improve the management and the quality of life of patients with chronic disease. In this study we evaluated the possible clinical and social advantages derived from remote patient monitoring using the Doctor Plus® Nephro program, as opposed to the standard of care. Methods. We included in our analysis the patients participating in the remote monitoring program of the Nephrology Center of ASL 3 in Rome from July 2017 to April 2019. Each patient was observed from a minimum of 4 months to a maximum of 22 months. Systolic and diastolic pressure, heart rate, weight and oximetry were monitored. An SF-12 questionnaire was also administered to evaluate the level of satisfaction with the program Doctor Plus® Nephro. Results. 16 patients (56,3% males, mean age 62 years) were observed as part of the analysis. During the program there was a reduction of systolic pressure in 69% of the patients and of diastolic pressure in 62,5%. Mean heart rate decreased from 69,4 bpm to 68,8 bpm (p<0,0046). The answers to the SF-12 questionnaire showed that the perceived health status of all patients had improved. Due to the closer clinical monitoring, the number of patients accessing emergency services also decreased. Conclusion. Doctor Plus® Nephro could improve access to home treatment; the results of this study in fact show it to be a useful tool for Nephrological Centers to monitor patients undergoing home dialysis.

 Keywords: remote patient monitoring, dialysis, home dialysis, blood pressure, quality of life

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Salivary creatinine and urea in patients with end-stage chronic kidney disease could not be used as diagnostic biomarkers for the effectiveness of dialysis treatment

Abstract

Introduction. End-stage chronic kidney disease (CKD) is characterized by kidney failure with the organ’s functions reduced or lost completely, where the kidneys are incapable of filtering excess fluids. Renal replacement therapy may be provided by peritoneal dialysis, hemodialysis or renal transplantation. Among the key indicators for tracking patients’ current status are urea and creatinine levels.

Aim. The study analyzed saliva as a medium to detect and measure urea and creatinine levels in end-stage CKD patients as well as to use it as criteria for the effectiveness of the dialysis treatment by comparing salivary urea and creatinine levels with their blood levels.

Material and methods. The study targeted 70 end-stage CKD patients from northeastern Bulgaria undergoing hemodialysis treatment. The urea in blood serum was carried out using the UV kinetic method. Creatinine levels were measured using Jaffe reaction colorimetric method without deproteinezation, adapted on an Olympus AU 400 automated biochemical analyzer (Beckman Coulter Inc., USA). Samples from whole unstimulated saliva were collected in a 15 ml sterile test tube as per Navazesh method. The qualitative determination of salivary urea was performed using the UV kinetic method. Creatinine levels in whole unstimulated saliva were measured using Jaffe reaction colorimetric method.

Results. There was a statistically significant reduction in blood urea levels (P=0.000) and in blood creatinine levels (P = 0.000) following hemodialysis. The results revealed that there was no statistically significant dependence between both, the urea levels (P=0.240) and the creatinine levels (P=0.065) in whole unstimulated saliva obtained prior to and after a hemodialysis.

Conclusion. Despite the parallel increase of the urea and creatinine levels in blood serum and in whole unstimulated saliva in end-stage CKD, salivary urea and creatinine levels could notbe used as diagnostic biomarkers for the effectiveness of dialysis treatment.

 

Key words: end-stage chronic kidney disease, dialysis, salivary urea, salivary creatinine

Introduction

 Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is recognised as a health concern globally, leading to ever-increasing rates of morbidity [1]. End-stage renal disease is characterized by kidney failure with the organ’s functions reduced or lost completely, where the kidneys are incapable of filtering excess fluids.  

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La Nefrologia nella Regione Sicilia

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Regione Sicilia

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Sicilia come anche in altre Regioni d’Italia, la sanità è in una fase di profonda trasformazione strutturale di natura organizzativa volta a ridurre gli sprechi, le inefficienze e a migliorare l’accoglienza, non solo alberghiera, ma anche e soprattutto umana al fine di garantire ai pazienti un rapido e qualificato accesso alle strutture sanitarie dell’Isola e rispondere così, al meglio, ai bisogni di Salute dei Siciliani.

 

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The contribution to nephrology of Professor Josef Erben (1926 – 2015)

Abstract

Professor Josef Erben, MD, DSc. died on May 24, 2015 in Hradec Králové, Czech Republic. He was one of the most outstanding Czechoslovak medical personalities who lived in the 20th and at the beginning of the 21st century. His work significantly influenced the development of general internal medicine and clinical nephrology, especially renal replacement therapy and kidney transplantation. He finished his medical studies at the Medical School of Charles University in Hradec Králové in 1951. From 1956 to 1993 he worked at the 1st Internal Clinic in Hradec Králové. From 1990 to 1993 he was the Head of this Clinic. Professor Erben’s principal contributions were at the national level: 1) He was a founder of regular dialysis treatment of chronic renal failure in Czechoslovakia; 2) He designed the project and production of the Hradec hemodialysis system; and at the international level: 3) Using the Subclavian vein, as vascular access for hemodialysis; 4) The development of a hemodialysis coil of Czechoslovak production of the Chiradis type for hemodialysis.

Keywords: clinical nephrologist, dialysis; subclavian vein catheterization; simultaneous hemodialysis system, scientist and organizer

The life of Josef Erben

Josef Erben was born on May 24, 1926 in Nova Paka, Czechoslovakia, and he died on May 24, 2015 in Hradec Králové, Czech Republic (Figure 1). He completed his medical study at the Medical School of Charles University in Hradec Králové in 1951. After the graduation he began to work at the Hospital in Nova Paka until 1956. From 1956 to 1993 he worked at the 1st Internal Clinic of the Faculty Hospital in Hradec Králové. At first he was an internist charged for the development of nephrology, from 1961 he was the Deputy Head of the Clinic, and from 1990 to 1993 he was the Head of this Clinic. Professor Erben defended his academic title “Doctor of Medical Sciences” (DSc) in 1982 on the thesis of “Residual renal function in chronic renal insufficiency during regular dialysis treatment”. He became Associate Professor in 1990, 25 years after the defense of his habilitation thesis because of his past political positions in 1968. In 1991 he was appointed as the full professor of Internal Medicine.

In 1958 he performed the first hemodialysis in Hradec Králové, which was the second in the former Czechoslovakia. The first clinical kidney transplantation in Czechoslovakia was carried out with a team of physicians together with Professor Erben on November 29, 1961 in Hradec Králové. Coincidentally, it was in the 16-year old girl from Košice, after removal of the right kidney for stones in the presence of a non-functional left kidney. The donor was her mother.

At the initiative of Professor Jan Brod MD, DSc., the Head of the “Institute of Cardiovascular Research” in Prague, Professor Erben completed a one-year internship at the “Cleveland Clinic Foundation” in the United States. He worked at the Department of Artificial Organs of Professor William J. Kolff, the “father of artificial kidney”, in 1966 (Figure 2). Here he was exposed to the problems of regular dialysis treatment and kidney transplantation.

After completing the Examinations for Educational Council for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), he was also allowed to work at the bedside of dialysed and transplanted patients. He also worked in the “emergency rooms” where patients were admitted for hemodialysis or for evaluation for kidney transplantation in the State of Ohio.

After one year he returned to Czechoslovakia. Under his leadership a project was created as “Hradec simultaneous hemodialysis system (HSHS)” with central distribution of dialysis solution and with the central control units of 6 monitors, which allowed for the simultaneous hemodialysis of 6 patients (1st contribution of Professor Erben) (1). Professor Erben was involved into research on using his own method of determination the active dialysis area using the Berlin blue (2). Together with J. Macek, MD, they developed a hemodialyzer coil of Czechoslovak production of the Chiradis type (3). The coil was inserted into the metal cylinder with an active recirculation of the dialysate using an electric pump (Figure 3). Hydrostatic pressure was used for the distribution of dialysis solution to each dialyzer using the elevation of two 300-liter reservoirs of dialysis solution above the level of dialysis beds. Hradec simultaneous hemodialysis system was successfully used in many dialysis facilities in Czechoslovakia and abroad (Hungary and German Democratic Republic). At the 1st and later at the IVth Internal Clinic of the Faculty Hospital in Košice HSHS was used from 1972 to 1990. Professor Erben was a founder of regular dialysis treatment of chronic renal failure in Czechoslovakia. His proposal for this treatment was accepted by the Advisory council of the Ministry of Health in 1967. It was not easy to introduce this concept into practice, because it was a financially demanding program.

In 1969 at the VIth EDTA Congress in Stockholm Professor Erben lectured about using the Subclavian vein for vascular access in hemodialysis therapy, first in the world. Catheterization of the subclavian vein was performed by the Seldinger technique (4, 5). This world contribution of Professor Erben was recognized by Professor Scribner at the EDTA Congress in Madrid, 1990. He was awarded many honors, the most important being the award of the State Prize for contribution in the field of kidney transplantation in 1979. From 1980 to 1990 he served as an expert consultant to the Ministry of Health for Nephrology. Professor Erben published more than 260 scientific papers, including 48 in international journals. He was the author of 13 scientific patents, in five as the first author. He organized The First National Nephrology Conference in Hradec Králové, 1969.

Professor Erben became the undisputed leader of Czechoslovak clinical nephrology.

Summary

Professor Erben was a founder of regular dialysis treatment for chronic renal failure in Czechoslovakia. A contribution of Professor Erben to international nephrology was using the subclavian vein for vascular access in hemodialysis (1969). The scientific and research work that Professor Erben performed during his active life will remain the stimulus of the contributions of the next generation of nephrologists. His impact on the field of nephrology in Czechoslovakia was manifold. It included his work in clinical nephrology, his teaching activities, and last but not least his excellent organizing and research abilities. He left a historical impact in the international medical and scientific community.

 

References
  1. Erben J, Máša J, Macek J et al. A new modification of a monitoring unit with a single pass system for simultaneous hemodialysis. Proc Europ Dial Transplant Ass 1969; 6: 328 -332.
  2. Erben J, Kvasnička J, Groh J, Rose F, Kolff WJ. Colorimetric determination of effective dialysis area of artificial kidney. (Letter to editor). J Amer Med Ass 1967; 202: 166.
  3. Macek J, Erben J, Šidák Z. Consumer hemodialysis coils of Czechoslovak production. Služ Zdravot 1969; 10: 231.
  4. Erben J, Kvasnicka J, Bastecky J et al. Experience with routine use of subclavian vein cannulation in haemodialysis. Proc Europ Dial Transplant Ass 1969; 6: 59-64.
  5. Erben J, Kvasnicka J, Bastecky J et al. Long-term experience with the technique of subclavian and femoral vein cannulation in hemodialysis. Artif Organs. 1979; 3: 241–244.