Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy

Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy

Continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) is done when a child’s kidneys are not working properly. CRRT is a type of dialysis where a machine removes some of your child’s blood, cleans it, and returns the blood back to your child.  CRRT can also remove any extra fluid in your child’s body that is caused by the kidneys not working properly.  

CRRT acts like the body’s kidney. It can:

  • Remove “bad” substances from the blood and excess water
  • Restore normal levels of substances needed in the body
  • Relieve the problems that result from the kidneys not working properly

What to Expect

Your child will have a thin plastic tube, or catheter, placed in a large vein.  A special machine is connected to the catheter and blood is pulled out through the catheter, cleaned by the machine and put back into the body.  A specially trained nurse and doctor will begin your child’s treatment. The duration of CRRT can vary depending on the child’s condition.  Your child will remain in the intensive care for the duration of the treatment.  The tubing in the machine will usually need to be changed every three days. CRRT can be stopped once your child’s doctor decides his/her kidneys are working well enough on their own.   

Your child may or may not be awake during this treatment.  It is not painful, but your child will need to rest quietly.  The nurse will watch your child closely during this treatment. Sometimes, children will need a blood transfusion as part of the treatment. The tubing in the machine will usually need to be changed every three days. The amount of kidney function restored with this treatment may vary and your child’s doctors will watch this closely.  

Your child could experience the following while having CRRT:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Bleeding
  • High or low heart rate
  • Infection in the catheter 
  • Trouble with the catheter, i.e., not working well and causing a delay in treatment 

Special Instructions

  • Help prevent infection by always washing your hands before entering your child’s room and before you leave. Check to make sure everyone does the same − don’t be afraid to remind anyone who comes into your child’s room to wash their hands.
  • Your child will need to rest quietly during this treatment. It is important to be careful around the machine so it does not get bumped or moved by accident.  You may want to have books, videos and quiet activities available for your child.  A Child Life specialist can also help with quiet activities for your child. 

Last Updated 04/2017

Conditions and treatments.

Learn more about the comprehensive therapy options available in the Center for Acute Care Nephrology.