Indian Journal of Nephrology About us |  Subscription |  e-Alerts  | Feedback | Login   
  Print this page Email this page   Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size
 Home | Current Issue | Archives| Ahead of print | Search |Instructions |  Editorial Board  

Users Online:456

Official publication of the Indian Society of Nephrology
 ~  Similar in PUBMED
 ~  Search Pubmed for
 ~  Search in Google Scholar for
 ~Related articles
 ~  Article in PDF (1,409 KB)
 ~  Citation Manager
 ~  Access Statistics
 ~  Reader Comments
 ~  Email Alert *
 ~  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

   Article Figures
   Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded216    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal


  Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 97-110

The nitty-gritties of Kt/Vurea calculations in hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis

1 Associate Medical Director, Medical Science and Strategy (Asia), IQVIA, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Consultant Nephrologist, Transplant Physician, Head of Department, Columbia Asia Hospital – Sarjapur Road, Ambalipura, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India; Faculty, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA

Date of Submission13-Jul-2019
Date of Acceptance23-Dec-2020
Date of Web Publication02-Apr-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Brian Mark Churchill
33, MIMS Ardendale, Phase 2, Near Adarsh Serinity, Kannamangala, Kadugodi Road, Whitefield, Bengaluru - 560 067, Karnataka
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijn.IJN_245_19

Rights and Permissions


In advanced Chronic Kidney Disease, patients require renal replacement therapy (dialysis or transplantation) for clearance of toxins, electrolyte and acid-base balance and removal of excess fluid. Dialysis adequacy should be taken into consideration in the adjustment of the dialysis prescription. Kt/Vurea is one method of measuring dialysis adequacy that is commonly used in clinical practice. Different formulae for calculating Kt/V are available. The appropriate Kt/V formula to be used depends on the clinical scenario, as well as parameters such as gender and size of patient, frequency of dialysis, mode of dialysis (ie hemodialysis vs, peritoneal dialysis), inter-dialysis weight gain, clinical symptoms, complications (fluid overload, hyperkalemia, intolerance to dialysis, etc), and residual kidney function. Nutrition parameters including serum protein and albumin levels, vitamin B12 and β2-microglobulin levels should be factored into the assessment of dialysis adequacy. In this review, we have described how Kt/Vurea is calculated in hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis with examples. We reviewed the available literature by searching for papers related to calculating Kt/Vurea, single pool Kt/V, double pool Kt/V, weekly Kt/V, standard Kt/V, surface area normalized Kt/V, and various equations commonly practiced in clinical practice. We found several original articles, some review articles along with detailed information from manufacturers of different dialyzers published on their websites or as package inserts. Understanding the different equations available for calculating Kt/Vurea and the application of these results in the clinical setting is important for refining patient care and for designing clinical studies.

Keywords: Dialysis adequacy, Kt/V, spKt/V, standard Kt/V, surface area normalized Kt/V

How to cite this article:
Churchill BM, Patri P. The nitty-gritties of Kt/Vurea calculations in hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Indian J Nephrol 2021;31:97-110

How to cite this URL:
Churchill BM, Patri P. The nitty-gritties of Kt/Vurea calculations in hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Indian J Nephrol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 19];31:97-110. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Dialysis adequacy can be assessed using several parameters. Clearance of waste products and toxins such as urea, creatinine and β2-microglobulin may be directly measured. Clinical parameters including presence of uremic symptoms, and nutrition markers such as serum protein and albumin levels should also be monitored.[1],[2],[3] Combined assessment of a patient's laboratory markers and overall clinical status should be taken into consideration in the determination of adequacy and adjustment of the dialysis prescription.

Kt/Vurea ('K' is dialyzer urea clearance, 't' is total dialysis session time, and 'V' is volume of distribution of urea which is approximately equal to total body water) is the most commonly used method of measurement of dialysis adequacy worldwide. The term 'Kt' (for urea) depicts volume of fluid completely cleared of urea in a single dialysis session. Kt/Vurea was developed by Frank Gotch and John Sargent.[4],[5],[6]

There is some controversy regarding whether Kt/Vurea is the most appropriate measure of adequacy as it is a surrogate for small molecule clearance and does not provide information on middle and large molecule clearance. The Hemo study showed that patients undergoing hemodialysis thrice a week, with higher Kt/V than that recommended (single pool Kt/Vurea of at least 1.2), or use of high flux membranes (that give better clearance of larger molecules like β2-microglobulin) have no major impact on mortality or on serious adverse events like hospitalization for infection or cardiac causes.[7] Though the studies have shown conflicting results regarding whether more frequent dialysis improves mortality, there are other benefits including regression of left ventricular mass (if it was abnormal earlier), improved blood pressure control, reduced use of antihypertensives, and better pregnancy outcomes.[8]

Several formulae to calculate Kt/Vurea have been developed for use in different clinical settings. These include single pool Kt/V (non-equilibrated), double pool Kt/V (equilibrated), estimated weekly Kt/V, standard Kt/V and surface area normalized standard Kt/V.

In this article we will discuss these different equations and specific settings in which each is used with examples.

Section 1 Hemodialysis

Calculating residual kidney function (RKF)

Mathew A.T, Fishbane S, Obi Y and Kalantar-Zadeh K proposed that significant residual kidney function should be defined as >500 ml of urine output per day. They also proposed that RKF should be monitored regularly until urine volume is <100 mL/day or KRU (residual urea clearance by kidneys) is <2 mL/min/1.73m2.[9]

Residual kidney function is calculated as follows [Box 1]:[10]

Step 1: Calculate urea clearance:

Parameters to be measured:

Post- dialysis BUN (mg/dL): BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) measured from sample collected at the end of a session of hemodialysis (arbitrarily named as session A). If post-dialysis urea is being measured (and not BUN), then pre-dialysis urea (and not BUN), and urine urea (and not urine urea nitrogen) concentrations should be measured.

Pre-dialysis BUN (mg/dL): BUN measured before next session of hemodialysis (arbitrarily named as session B).

Mean of pre-dialysis and post-dialysis BUN: The mean is calculated and is called plasma BUN concentration (mg/dL) (BUNplasma).

24-hours urine volume (Vurine measured in ml/24 hours) and urine urea nitrogen concentration (mg/dL) (UNurine): A 24-hour urine is collected between sessions A and B (on a non-dialysis day). 24-hour urine Volume and urine urea nitrogen concentration is measured from this sample.

Urea nitrogen is the amount of nitrogen in urea. Molecular weight of urea is 60, and of nitrogen is 28. If we calculate Urea/Nitrogen, it is 60/28 = 2.14.

BUN is Blood Urea Nitrogen, the amount of nitrogen in urea present in blood. So, urea is equal to BUN x 2.14. In calculations, either urea nitrogen level or urea level should be used (not both).

Urea Nitrogen clearance and Urea clearances are same (see the equation below).

Urea clearance = (Ureaurine X Vurine)/(Ureaplasma X 24 X 60)

If Urea Nitrogen is measured, and not urea, then:

Urea clearance = UNurine x 2.14 x Vurine/[(BUNplasma x 2.14) X 24 X 60]

The 2.14 in numerator and denominator cancel each other.

Step 2: Calculate residual kidney function Krt/V as follows:

  • 'Kr' is urea clearance per week ('r' refers to 'residual')
  • The term 't' is time = 1 week
  • 'V' is volume measured as total body water.

Calculating Kr

Kr is calculated in liters per week. Therefore, convert urea clearance obtained above from ml/min to liters/week.

Kr (L/week) = Urea clearance (ml/min) X [(60 X 24 X 7)/1000] = Urea clearance (ml/min) X 10.08

Calculating V (total body water):

In practice 'V' is usually calculated using Watson's equation or Hume's equation.

Watson's equation for calculating the Total Body Water (TBW) or 'V':[11],[12]

Male TBW or V (in liters) = 2.447 + (0.3362 X Weight in Kg) + (0.1074 X Height in cm) – (0.09156 X Age)

Female TBW or V (in liters) = -2.097 + (0.2466 X Weight in Kg) + (0.1069 X Height in cm)


Male TBW or V (in liters) = (0.194786 x height) + (0.296785 x weight) - 14.012934

Female TBW or V (in liters) = (0.34454 x height) + (0.183809 x weight) - 35.270121

The Watson formulas overestimates TBW in obese patients and underestimates TBW in overhydrated people.[13] The accurate measurement of total body water involves use of isotope dilution techniques including deuterium isotope dilution or tritium dilution.[13],[14] Since it is difficult to use isotope dilution technique on a larger number of patients, investigators have used bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) technique to calculate total body water.[15],[16]

BIA technique has been shown to accurately and reliably measure TBW.[15],[16] As compared to single frequency BIA, multi-frequency BIA (MFBIA) distinguishes intracellular and extracellular water, and is more precise in measuring body water.[16] A study involving 2943 healthy Korean subjects used BIA to calculate total body water, and made a comparative study with formulae using anthropometric measurements. The investigators found that TBW calculated using Watsons formula for women, and Humes formula for men correlated better with TBW calculated using BIA.[15]

Calculating Kt/V in hemodialysis

Calculating delivered hemodialysis dose

Scenario 1: A 33-year-old female patient from Manipur is undergoing hemodialysis twice a week, each session of 4 hours duration. She has a small body size. She complains of pleuritic chest pain and breathlessness. On examination, she is found to be having pericardial friction rub. There is no history of fever. Past history: CKD, cause recurrent pyelonephritis. There is no past history suggestive of malignancy, autoimmune diseases, or tuberculosis.

Dialysis records show that her hemoglobin level is 11 gm%. BP is 138/78 mm Hg, pulse 68/min, respiratory rate 34/min. She has good 24-hour urine output (1-1.5 liters). URR is good (71%), interdialytic weight gain is 1-1.5 kg. There is no sign of fluid overload. Uremic pericarditis is suspected.

Scenario 2: A 44-year-old man, with big and strong built body structure, is receiving hemodialysis twice a week. His urine output is a little less than 1 liter per day. The regular investigations show normal serum albumin, serum creatinine 9.2 mg/dl, serum phosphorus 6.7 mg/dl, serum calcium 9.8 mg/dl, uric acid 10.2 mg/dl. Patient has no complaints. Treating nephrologist wonders whether he is receiving adequate dialysis.

Discussion: In scenario 1, calculating Kt/V may reveal that subject is being underdialysed, despite a normal URR. This subject may need increased dialysis dose, and regular monitoring of adequacy of dialysis (Kt/V), and the regular protocol of dialysis advised to manage uremic pericarditis patient. In scenario 2, the subject's serum creatinine is 9.8 mg/dl. His other labs are also high (high serum phosphorus and uric acid). This may raise the suspicion of delivering inadequate dialysis dose. Assessing dialysis adequacy by measuring Kt/V can be helpful in this case.

Single pool Kt/V is most commonly measured parameter for measuring dialysis adequacy. Double pool Kt/V is more accurate but needs the patient to wait for 30-60 minutes post dialysis.

Advantage: Kt/V calculation assures clinicians, patients, insurance companies, and any concerned authority that adequate dialysis dose is being given to a patient. Also, it may help in timely intervention to modify dialysis dose prescription.

Single pool Kt/Vurea (spKt/Vurea): In this model, it is assumed that urea is in only one compartment or 'pool' of the body and that there is a linear decline in urea level during dialysis, and an immediate equilibration occurs between the blood and tissue compartments after dialysis. This is not true, as urea exists in intracellular and extracellular spaces (different compartments). Urea from intracellular space diffuses out into the extracellular space, but complete equilibration is not immediate as it is assumed in this model and takes 30 to 60 minutes after the end of dialysis session. As the test is performed before equilibration can occur, spKt/V is also referred to as 'non-equilibrated Kt/V'.[17] Please see [Figure 1] for understanding the basic concept of single pool Kt/Vurea.
Figure 1: Understanding single pool Kt/V

Click here to view

Towards the end of dialysis session, the blood flow pump is slowed to a speed of 100 ml/min for 15 seconds and then stopped, and blood sample is collected for post-dialysis BUN. This method helps in preventing hemodialysis access recirculation.[17]

The following equation for calculating spKt/V gives reliable results when hemodialysis is being given three times per week [Box 2].[18]

Equation 1: spKt/V = -ln (R – 0.008 x T) + (4 – 3.5R) x 0.55 x Weight loss/V

  • 'R' is ratio of post-dialysis to pre-dialysis BUN or Blood Urea. In some parts of the world (for example, America) BUN is assayed; and in other parts (for example, Europe), blood urea is assayed [Urea = BUN x 2.14].[18],[19],[20]
  • 'V' is total body water volume.
  • 'Weight loss' and 'V' are expressed in same units.
  • 'T' is dialysis session time, or treatment time in hours.
  • LN (or ln) is natural logarithm. Ln = loge. This means that natural log is equal to log to the base of e. The value of 'e' is 2.178.

Equation 1 for calculating spKt/V does not give accurate results when hemodialysis sessions are fewer than 3 times per week (or more - up to 7 times per week) due to differences in inter dialytic urea generation. Following equation is more accurate in these cases [18]:

Equation 2: spKt/V = -ln (R – GFAC x T) + (4 – 3.5R) x 0.55 x Weight loss/V

GFAC or G-factor (urea generation factor that adjusts for urea generation) value depends on frequency of dialysis and preceding interdialysis interval (PIDI). John T Daugirdas, et al. have given a table [see [Table 1]] to help find the value of GFAC.[14] Roughly it is 0.175 divided by the preceding inter-dialysis interval in days.[18]
Table 1: GFAC (G-Factor) Value

Click here to view

Calculating weekly standard Kt/V is more appropriate in more frequent dialysis. Standard Kt/V is explained later in the text.

Urea reduction ratio (URR) refers to reduction in urea due to dialysis, a commonly used parameter to quantify efficacy of dialysis. URR of more than 65% is recommended as a marker of adequacy for patients who are stable on hemodialysis three times a week schedule.[21],[22] URR is calculated using following equation:

Mathematical relationship between URR and spKt/V, the basic equation

Here is the mathematical equation expressing how URR and spKt/V are related:[23]

spKt/V = -ln (1-URR)

The expression 'ln' represents 'natural logarithm'.

If URR is 60%, let's calculate spKt/V.

spKt/V = -ln (1-0.6)

= -ln (0.4)

Value of 'ln 0.4' from rapid tables is -0.916

Hence, spKt/V = - (-0.916)

spKt/V = 0.916

spKt/V and URR, correction for urea generation and ultrafiltration (UF)

The basic equation given above does not consider the impact of urea generation and ultrafiltration on spKt/V during dialysis. During dialysis, the body continues to generate urea. Also, for a given value of URR, the actual urea removal is more due to ultrafiltration.[23]

Let's understand this with an example.

Patient 'A' has pre-dialysis 'V' = 45 L, UF is 3 L, so post-dialysis 'V' is 42 L.

Pre-dialysis BUN concentration is 80 mg/dl or 0.8 g/L.

So total BUN is 0.8 x 45 = 36 g.

Post dialysis BUN concentration is 40 mg/dl or 0.4 g/L. So, total BUN post-dialysis is 0.4 x 42 = 16.8 g. Total urea reduction is 36 – 16.8 = 19.2 g.

URR is [(0.8 – 0.4)/0.8] x 100 = 50%

Patient 'B' has pre-dialysis 'V' = 45 L, UF is Nil, so post-dialysis 'V' is 45 L.

Pre-dialysis BUN concentration is 80 mg/dl or 0.8 g/L, so total BUN pre-dialysis is 0.8 x 45 = 36 g.

Post dialysis BUN concentration is 40 mg/dl or 0.4 g/L. So, total BUN post-dialysis is 0.4 x 45 = 18 g. Total urea reduction is 36 – 18 = 18 g.

URR is [(0.8 – 0.4)/0.8] x 100 = 50%

So, in this example we see that for the same URR (50%), actual urea removal is more when UF is more. This implicates that spKt/V is more when UF is more, as spKt/V has 'V' in denominator, so if UF is more, the post dialysis 'V' will be lesser giving a higher value of spKt/V.

Deriving spKt/V from URR (including effect of urea generation and ultrafiltration)

From the discussion above, we see that a simple or basic mathematical equation representing the relation between URR and spKt/V is not sufficient. We need to include the effect of urea generation (g) and Ultrafiltration (UF) in the mathematical equation. Here is how we can do it.[23]

If 'R' = (predialysis BUN/post-dialysis BUN).

URR = [(predialysis BUN – Post-dialysis BUN)/pre-dialysis BUN] x 100

URR = [(predialysis BUN/predialysis BUN) – (Post-dialysis BUN/pre-dialysis BUN)] x 100

URR (expressed as a percentage) = [1 – (Post-dialysis BUN/pre-dialysis BUN)] x 100

Substituting (pre-dialysis BUN/postdialysis BUN) by 'R', we get:

URR (expressed as a percentage) = (1 – R) x 100 URR (not expressed as percentage) = 1 - R

Substituting this value of URR in the basic spKt/V equation:

Basic equation: spKt/V = -ln (1-URR)

spKt/V = -ln (1- (1-R)

spKt/V = -ln (R)

If 'V' is not known, 'V' can be assumed to be 55% of post-dialysis weight (W)

Then the above equation becomes:

spKt/V = -ln (R – 0.008 x T) + (4 – 3.5 R) x UF/W

Estimated (theoretical) dialysis dose:

Clearance of urea varies between different models of dialyzers and is dependent on-

  1. Blood flow rate, dialysate flow rate and ultrafiltration flow rates
  2. Surface area of the membrane, and
  3. Intrinsic diffusive capacity of the membrane.

Surface area and intrinsic diffusive capacity of the membrane are measured as KoA (mass transfer-area coefficient)

Estimated dialysis dose can be calculated by Michaels equation shown below.[24]

KoA is the urea mass transfer-area coefficient.

'Exp' is natural exponential function. The mathematical expression exp (n) means en, where 'e' is the base of natural logarithm. Its value is equal to 2.71828 (Euler's number).[25] The number, 2.71828, a constant, is called Euler's number after the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler. The constant is also called Napier's constant after John Napier.[26],[27] Exp is the inverse function of natural logarithm function (LN).[25]

KoA was considered as a constant for a given dialyzer-solute combination in Michaels equation.[24] However, a study by Leypoldt et al. showed that KoA value may vary at higher blood flow rates. Twenty-two different models of commercial hollow fiber dialyzers were evaluated. In-vitro testing of clearances at three countercurrent dialysate flow (QD) and blood flow (QB) rate combinations at 37°C temperature were observed. The effect of changes in QD and QB were found to be similar in different models of dialyzers used. The investigators observed that Urea KoA did not change when QB changed from 306 + - 7 to 459 + - 10 ml/min at QD 500 ml/min, and 0 UF rate. However, when QD was increased from 504 + - 6 to 819 + -8 ml/min, keeping QB at 450 ml/min and UF rate 0, urea KoA increased by 14 + - 7% (range 3 to 33% depending on the model of the dialyzer) to 780 + - 150 ml/min. The investigators proposed that small solute clearance might be limited due to stagnant fluid layers in both blood and dialysate flow systems.[28]

On realizing that stagnation fluid layers may affect dialyzer performance, manufacturers introduced better dialyzer models with better features like hollow fiber undulations, spacer yarns, and changes in fiber packing density.[24] Ward et al. investigated single-use dialyzers with hollow fiber undulations and increased packing density (Polyflux Revaclear and Revaclear MAX dialyzers) for effect of increasing dialysate flow on Kt/V. Dialysate flow rates were kept at 600 and 800 ml/min. The investigators found that increasing dialysate flow rate did not have statistically significant effect on delivered Kt/Vurea.[24]

[Table 2] shows KoA (urea) values for different brands of dialyzers; and [Table 3] shows urea clearance achieved from different dialyzers at different flow rates.
Table 2: KoA (urea mass transfer-area coefficient) of different dialyzers[47],[48],[49],[50]

Click here to view
Table 3: Urea clearance achieved from different dialyzers at different flow rates[29],[47],[51]

Click here to view

The clearance K for urea decreases only slightly (1-2% per 10 re-uses) with reuse. By contrast, the clearance of β2-microglobulin may decrease, remain unchanged, or increase substantially with re-use depending on the membrane material and reprocessing technique used.[29]

Double pool Kt/Vurea

In single pool Kt/V calculation, BUN is assumed to be distributed in a single compartment. This is far from reality. Double pool Kt/V calculation method takes into account two compartments of BUN distribution: the intravascular and extravascular compartments. After dialysis session is over, the low BUN level in intravascular compartment starts increasing as BUN from extravascular compartment starts entering the intravascular compartment (causing the rebound of BUN in intravascular compartment). If sample is drawn after 30-60 minutes of stopping dialysis, the rebound gets completed, and we get a more accurate and true post-dialysis BUN level. Please see [Figure 2] for understanding the basic concept of double pool Kt/Vurea.
Figure 2: Understanding the concept of double pool Kt/V or eKt/V

Click here to view

Hence, double pool Kt/Vurea, also termed equilibrated Kt/Vurea or eKt/Vurea and is more accurate as compared with single pool Kt/Vurea as it eliminates the inaccuracy of post-dialysis BUN level due to BUN rebound post-dialysis. This calculation requires obtaining a post dialysis BUN 30 minutes after the end of dialysis session.

Waiting for 30-60 minutes post dialysis for collecting post dialysis sample for estimating BUN allows enough time for urea to equilibrate from extravascular compartment to vascular compartment (the rebound). This equilibration occurs approximately 30 minutes after dialysis session is over.[17] Besides this, there is no hemodialysis access recirculation to affect BUN levels 30-60 minutes post-dialysis. Most patients do not want to wait for a test after dialysis is over, hence single pool approach for calculating Kt/V is more commonly practiced.

Equilibrated Kt/Vurea is usually 0.15 to 0.20 lower than the single-pool Kt/V. This means that spKt/Vurea of 1.2 (minimum recommended dose), is equal to equilibrated Kt/Vurea of 1.00 to 1.05.[7] This difference is due tothe 'rebound'. 'Rebound' is the urea rebound after hemodialysis session is over. For deriving eKt/Vurea from spKt/Vurea, the 'rebound' is subtracted from spKt/Vurea to get eKt/Vurea.[30]

The magnitude of 'rebound' depends on the rate at which the dialysis dose is delivered. The 'rate of dialysis' is defined as spKt/V divided by the dialysis session duration 'T', and equals to 'K/V', where 'K' is the delivered clearance, and 'V' is the volume of distribution of urea or total body water. K/V is directly proportional to rebound (greater the K/V, greater is the rebound). Consequently, the smallest patients (with smallest 'V') will have highest K/V, and highest rebounds. This means that spKt/V may be higher for small patients, and eKt/V much lower due to higher rebounds. Such patients may be getting less dialysis than that inferred from the spKt/V value.[30]

The following equations help in calculating eKt/V from spKt/V (hence a relief for clinicians and researchers as subjects do not have to wait for 30 minutes or more for the sample collection after dialysis). Two equations are available, depending on whether AV fistula (arterial access) is being used for dialysis, or a central venous catheter (venous access).[17]

The Hemo study, a multicenter trial sponsored by National Institutes of Health (NIH), demonstrated that the kinetically derived rate equation gives reasonably good prediction of eKt/V.[31] The equations are given below:[32]

AV Fistula (Arterial Access)

eKt/V = spKt/V – rebound*

Rebound = 0.6 x hemodialysis rate – 0.03**

Replacing 'hemodialysis rate' in above equation with (spKt/V) T, we get:

eKt/V = spKt/V – [0.6 x (spKt/V)/T - 0.03]

eKt/V = spKt/V – 0.6 x (spKt/V)/T + 0.03

Central Venous Catheter (Venous access)

eKt/V = spKt/V – rebound*

Rebound = 0.47x hemodialysis rate – 0.02**

Replacing 'hemodialysis rate in above equation with (spKt/V)/T, we get:

eKt/V = spKt/V – [0.47 x (spKt/V)/T - 0.02]

eKt/V = spKt/V – 0.47 x (spKt/V)/T + 0.02

*'Rebound' is 'urea rebound after hemodialysis session'

**Hemodialysis rate = (spKt/V)/T, where 'T' is hemodialysis session time in hours.

eKt/V can also be calculated using the Tattersall equation. The equation is given below.[33],[34]

eKt/V = spKt/V x T/(T + C), where 'T' is dialysis session time in minutes, and 'C' is a constant and its value depends on the solute and the vascular access. When solute under question is urea, 'C' is equal to 35 minutes for arterial access, and 22 minutes for venous access.

AV Fistula (Arterial Access)

eKt/V = spKt/V x T/(T + C)*

Replacing value of 'C' we get:

eKt/Vurea = spKt/Vurea x T/(T + 35)

*'T' is dialysis session time in minutes.

*'C' is a constant and its value depends on the solute and the vascular access. When solute under question is urea, 'C' is equal to 35 minutes for arterial access.

Central Venous Catheter (Venous access)

eKt/V = spKt/V x T/(T + C)*

Replacing value of 'C' we get:

eKt/Vurea = spKt/Vurea x T/(T + 22)

*'T' is dialysis session time in minutes.

*'C' is a constant and its value depends on the solute and the vascular access. When solute under question is urea, 'C' is equal to 22 minutes for venous access.

Standard Kt/V

Scenario 3: A 45-year-old female was unable to tolerate more than 2 hours hemodialysis sessions, so she was started with 5 hemodialysis sessions per week, each of 2 hours duration. The patient is worried whether the dialysis dose is adequate.

Discussion: Standard Kt/V is recommended for calculating dialysis adequacy in more frequent hemodialysis.

Advantage: While single pool and double pool Kt/V calculate adequacy of single dialysis sessions, standard Kt/V calculates cumulative adequacy of multiple dialysis sessions over a week. This makes it a more reliable parameter of dialysis adequacy.

Disadvantage: Standard Kt/V may not be a very reliable parameter of dialysis adequacy in smaller subjects and females receiving hemodialysis more than 3 times per week. Surface area adjusted standard Kt/V is more appropriate in these settings.

Equilibrated and non-equilibrated Kt/V are used to assess the impact of a single dialysis session. Standard Kt/V (stdKt/V) is useful when the need is to calculate the efficacy of multiple sessions of dialysis over a span of a week. This is more useful in patients receiving frequent (more than 3 times a week) hemodialysis, continuous or intermittent peritoneal dialysis, or continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) in acute kidney injury. Standard Kt/V is also useful when the aim is to compare different dialysis treatment regimens and methods.[17]

Fixed volume model and Variable volume model for calculating stdKt/V

Standard Kt/Vurea is a representation of hypothetical continuous clearance in patients receiving intermittent hemodialysis. It takes into account the averaged pre-dialysis BUN levels, and urea nitrogen generation rate.[35] The fixed volume model does not incorporate the effect of fluid removal during dialysis and hence underestimates the delivered dialysis dose. The variable volume model takes into account the effect of fluid removal and the residual kidney function too, and hence gives more accurate estimates.[35]

Method of calculating stdKt/Vurea.

Standard Kt/Vurea can be calculated as follows [Box 3].[36]

  1. Step 1: calculate spKt/V by equation used for higher frequency hemodialysis (more than 3 times per week). The equation is: spKt/V = -ln (R – GFAC x T) + (4 – 3.5R) x 0.55 x Weight loss/V
  2. Step 2: calculate eKt/V, for example by Tattersall equation: eKt/V = spKt/V x T/(T + C), where 'T' is dialysis session time in minutes, and 'C' is a constant. When solute under question is urea, 'C' is equal to 35 minutes for arterial access, and 22 minutes for venous access.
  3. Step 3: calculate fixed volume model stdKt/V by this equation:

  4. Here 'T' is treatment time in minutes; and 'F' is number of dialysis sessions in a week preceding collection of blood samples for analysis.

  5. Step 4: calculate variable volume model stdKt/V by following equation:

Here, 'S' is stdKt/V calculated from equation for fixed volume model; 'F' is number of dialysis sessions per week; Uf is weekly ultrafiltration volume in milliliters (ml), 'Kru' is residual urea clearance by kidneys (residual kidney function) in ml/min; and 'V' is urea distribution volume in ml.[36]

Surface area normalized standard Kt/V

Studies have shown that BSA (body surface area) seems to be more closely correlated to actual TBW.[13],[37] Instead of 'V', or volume of distribution of urea as a denominator for calculating 'Kt/V', use of BSA may be more appropriate for women and smaller patients, as using 'V' results in underestimation of stdKt/V and spKt/V.[18] Moreover, 'V' changes when a patient loses weight, or gains weight (as in edema), and this affects spKt/V and stdKt/V. Using BSA instead of 'V' eliminates error due to fluctuations in 'V'.

This concept has led to the development of surface area normalized standard Kt/V (SAstdKt/V). The equation is given below:

Here, Vw is patient's volume of distribution of urea in liters and is calculated using Watson's formula. BSA is body surface area in m2 calculated using DuBois and Dubois formula. The denominator 'Nf' is 'normalizing factor', a population mean V/BSA, and its value is 20 L/m2. Its value can change if formulae other than Walson's for Vw and DuBois and DuBois for BSA.[18]

DuBois and DuBois formula for calculating BSA is given below:

BSA = (W0.425 x H0.725) x 0.007184

Here, BSA is Body Surface Area in m2, 'W' is weight in kilograms and 'H' is height in centimeters.

Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (KDOQI) guidelines

KDOQI guidelines for thrice weekly hemodialysis KDOQI guidelines recommend that patients with residual kidney function of less than 2 ml/min on thrice a week hemodialysis should be prescribed at least 3 hours each dialysis session.[18] Target single pool Kt/Vurea (spKt/Vurea) is recommended to be between 1.2 to 1.4 per dialysis session, spKt/Vurea of 1.2 is considered minimally adequate, and 1.4 is the target recommended dose.[18]

Many randomized control trials, including the Hemo study, showed that patients undergoing hemodialysis thrice a week, with higher Kt/V than that recommended (single pool Kt/Vurea of more than 1.4) have no survival benefit.[7],[38],[39] Some studies have shown that Kt/V lower than 1.2 is associated with increased mortality.[40],[41] This implies that target spKt/V of 1.2 to 1.4 is reasonable.[7]

As discussed earlier, Urea Reduction Ratio (URR) is another method of measuring delivered dialysis dose. URR of 63% roughly corresponds with spKt/Vurea of 1.2.[42] Hemodialysis clinical practice guidelines for the Canadian Society of Nephrology recommends minimum Kt/V of 1.2 or minimum URR of 65% for thrice a week hemodialysis.[43] For a given value of Kt/V, URR values may differ significantly. General consensus is that URR should be phased out and replaced with more precise methods of measuring dialysis adequacy.[18] Kt/V is more precise than URR as unlike URR, Kt/V takes into account the urea clearance due to ultrafiltration, and urea generated during hemodialysis.[18],[42] Moreover, patient's residual kidney function cannot be incorporated with URR to prescribe adequate dialysis dose.[18]

KDOQI guidelines for hemodialysis less than thrice weekly

The dose of hemodialysis may be reduced in patients with significant residual kidney function. Residual kidney function needs to be monitored closely, and dialysis dose adjusted accordingly.[18] Most centers measure the residual kidney function monthly.

KDOQI guidelines for hemodialysis other than thrice weekly (more frequent and continuous dialysis treatments)

Target standard Kt/V of 2.3 per week, with a minimum of 2.1 (this includes contribution of ultrafiltration and residual kidney function) is recommended.[18]

Section 2 Peritoneal dialysis

Residual Kidney Function (RKF) when to measure and when not to measure

If peritoneal Kt/Vurea is more than 1.7, residual kidney function need not be monitored to estimate peritoneal dialysis dose.

Anuria is defined as urine output of less than 100 ml per day. If 24-hour urine output is less than 100 ml, residual kidney function need not be calculated to monitor peritoneal dialysis dose.[44]

Calculating Kt/Vurea

Kt/Vurea in peritoneal dialysis can be calculated as follows [Box 4].[45]

Step 1: calculate Kt: Kt is the daily peritoneal urea clearance.

It is calculated by following equation:

Kt = (Durea/Purea) x VD

Durea is urea concentration in pooled drain dialysate (dialysate from all exchanges in 24 hours is pooled, mixed properly, and then sample is collected from this to assess Durea.

Purea is urea concentration in plasma.

VD is 24-hour peritoneal dialysate drain volume.

D/P of small solutes is not affected by body size.[44]

Step 2: calculate 'V'. 'V' is volume of distribution of urea and is equal to total body water.

Calculating 'V' in patients with adequate nutrition and weight close to dry weight

In adults whose weight is equal to or approaching dry weight, either Watson or Hume equation should be used to calculate 'V' when calculating Kt/Vurea.[11],[12],[44]


Male TBW = 2.447 - (0.09156 x age) + (0.1074 x height) + (0.3362 x weight)

Female TBW = -2.097 + (0.1069 x height) + (0.2466 x weight)


Male TBW = (0.194786 x height) + (0.296785 x weight) - 14.012934

Female TBW = (0.34454 x height) + (0.183809 x weight) - 35.270121

Step 3: calculate daily peritoneal dialysis achieved (Kt/Vurea) and weekly peritoneal dialysis (Kt/Vurea x 7)

Step 4: calculate residual kidney function (if required):

Method of calculating residual kidney function is described above in hemodialysis section.

When to increase the dose of dialysis

If a patient fails to thrive despite an adequate calculated Kt/Vurea, and there is no identifiable cause other than kidney failure (such as peritonitis, comorbid conditions), an increase in dialysis dose should be considered.[44]

Patient's symptoms should be considered in the decision to adjust dialysis prescriptions. Studies have suggested that patients with lower clearance require more erythropoietin for management of anemia, are more prone for inadequate ultrafiltration, and are more likely to be uremic, hyperkalemic, acidemic, and suffer death from congestive heart failure.[44]

Uremic pericarditis, uremic neuropathy, nausea and vomiting (no other cause identified other than uremia), hyperkalemia, pruritis, sleep disturbance, restless leg syndrome, volume overload, metabolic acidosis unresponsive to oral bicarbonate therapy and anemia are other reasons for increasing the dialysis dose.[44]

If residual kidney function is minimal, intermittent peritoneal dialysis may not be adequate. Continuous peritoneal dialysis (24 hours per day) is recommended in this situation to achieve adequate middle molecule clearance.[44]

  Conclusion Top

The choice formula of Kt/V (whether spKt/V, eKt/V, stdKt/V, or SAstdKt/V) appropriate for calculating adequacy depends on several parameters including gender, size of the patient, frequency of dialysis, dialysis modality (hemodialysis versus peritoneal dialysis), inter-dialysis weight gain, clinical symptoms and rate of complications (like fluid overload, hyperkalemia, and intolerance to dialysis). Residual kidney function (if urine output is more than 100 ml/day) should not be ignored when calculating adequacy of dialysis. Kt/Vurea is not a perfect measure of dialysis adequacy, as it does not measure the clearance of middle molecules like β2-microglobulin. Also, uremic toxins generation rate is different for different individuals, so it is more appropriate to measure dialysis adequacy as clearance with uremic toxins generation rate as denominator.[18] Factors like uremic symptoms, nutrition parameters like serum protein and albumin levels, vitamin B12 and β2-microglobulin levels are also important for measuring dialysis adequacy.

Hemodialysis machines with online clearance monitoring facility have recently created an interest. These machines allow frequent assessment of dialysis adequacy (Kt/V) without the need for taking blood samples. It is done by measuring ionic dialysance through conductivity measurements of dialysate using online clearance monitor.[46]

Appendix: Links to online calculators

Residual Kidney Function

  1. QxMd:

Volume of distribution (V) or Total Body Water (TBW)

  1. Medcalc:
  2. QxMD:
  3. Merck manuals:

Natural logarithms Tutorials

  1. Nippissing University:
  2. Khan Academy:

Natural Logarithm calculators

  1. Rapid Tables:

Kt/V Calculators

  1. QxMD : Kt/V Daugirdas. Link:
  2. Merck Manuals. Kt/V Dialysis Dose Formulae MultiCalc:
  3. Easy calculation: Kt/V Calculator - Dialysis Dose Calculation.
  4. MedCalc : Hemodialysis – Kt/V and URR.
  5. Touchcalc:
  6. HDCN:

Body surface area

  1. Cornell University:
  2. Merck Manuals:

Competing Interests: None

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Stolic R, Trajkovic G, Stolic D, Peric V, Subaric-Gorgieva G. Nutrition parameters as hemodialysis adequacy markers. Hippokratia 2010;14:193-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
Canaud B, Morena M, Cristol JP, Krieter D. β2-microglobulin, a uremic toxin with a double meaning. Kidney Int 2006;69:1297-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Casino FG, Mostacci SD, Santarsia G, Lopez T. [Vitamin B12 clearance (Kd-B12) in hemodialysis (HD) and hemodiafiltration (HDF)] (Abstract).G Ital Nefrol 2004;21(Suppl 30):S217-22.  Back to cited text no. 3
Gotch FA, Sargent JA. A mechanistic analysis of the National Cooperative Dialysis Study (NCDS). Kidney Int 1985;28:526-34.  Back to cited text no. 4
Wikipedia. Kt/V. Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia [Internet]. 2019. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Jun 19].  Back to cited text no. 5
Gotch FA, Sargent JA, Keen ML. Whither goest Kt/V? August 2000 Volume 58, Supplement 76, Pages S3-18. doi: 10.1046/j. 1523-1755.2000.07602.x.  Back to cited text no. 6
Eknoyan G, Beck GJ, Cheung AK, Daugirdas JT, Greene T, Kusek JW, et al. Effect of dialysis dose and membrane flux in maintenance hemodialysis. N Engl J Med 2002;347:2010-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
Suri RS, Kliger AS. When is more frequent hemodialysis beneficial? (Abstract). Semin Dial 2018;31:332-42.  Back to cited text no. 8
Mathew AT, Fishbane S, Obi Y, Kalantar-Zadeh K. Preservation of residual kidney function in hemodialysis patients: Reviving an old concept for contemporary practice. Kidney Int 2016;90:262-71.  Back to cited text no. 9
Bleyer A, Golper TA. Incorporating residual kidney function into the dosing of intermittent hemodialysis. UpToDate. 2018. [Last accessed on 2019 Jan 22].  Back to cited text no. 10
MedCalc. Total Body Water/Urea Volume of Distribution. 2010. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 May 06].  Back to cited text no. 11
QxMD. Total Body Water (Watson Formula). 2019. Available from: [Last acessed on 2019 May 06].  Back to cited text no. 12
Johansson AC, Samuelsson O, Attman PO, Bosaeus I, Haraldsson B. Limitations in anthropometric calculations of total body water in patients on peritoneal dialysis. J Am Soc Nephrol 2001;12:568-73.  Back to cited text no. 13
Kushner RF, Schoeller DA. Estimation of total body water by bioelectrical impedance analysis [Abstract]. Am J Clin Nutr 1986;44:417-24.  Back to cited text no. 14
Kim MJ, Lee SW, Kim GA, Lim HJ, Lee SY, Park GH, et al. Development of anthropometry-based equations for the estimation of the total body water in Koreans. J Korean Med Sci 2005;20:445-49.  Back to cited text no. 15
Lee SW, Song JH, Kim GA, Lee KJ, Kim MJ. Assessment of total body water from anthropometry-based equations using bioelectrical impedance as reference in Korean adult control and haemodialysis subjects. Nephrol Dial Transplant 2001;16:91-7.  Back to cited text no. 16
Fresenius Medical Care. Measuring hemodialysis dose. Advanced renal education program. 2015. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 May 07].  Back to cited text no. 17
National Kidney Foundation. KDOQI clinical practice guideline for hemodialysis adequacy: 2015 update. Available from: (15) 01019-7/pdf. [Last accessed on 2019 May 03].  Back to cited text no. 18
Geddes CC, Traynor J, Walbaum D, Fox JG, Mactier RA. A new method of post-dialysis blood urea sampling: The 'stop dialysate flow' method. Nephrol Dial Transplant 2000;15:517-23.  Back to cited text no. 19
Hosten AO. BUN and creatinine. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd ed. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 193. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 May 10].  Back to cited text no. 20
Adequacy of haemodialysis (Urea reduction ratio). Chapter 6. UK renal Registry. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Jun 19].  Back to cited text no. 21
Pyart R, Magadi W, Steenkamp R, Davenport A. UK Renal Registry 20th Annual Report: Chapter 6: Adequacy of haemodialysis in UK adult patients in 2016: National and centre-specific analyses. Nephron 2018;139(Suppl 1):151-64.  Back to cited text no. 22
Daugirdas JT. Physiologic principles and urea kinetic modeling. In: Daugirdas JT, Blake PG, Ing TS, editors. Handbook of Dialysis. 4th ed. New Delhi, India: Wolters Kluwer (India) pvt. Ltd; 2007. p. 25-58.  Back to cited text no. 23
Ward RA, Idoux JW, Hamdan H, Ouseph R, Depner TA, Golper TA. Dialysate flow rate and delivered Kt/Vurea for dialyzers with enhanced dialysate flow distribution. CJASN 2011;6:2235-9.  Back to cited text no. 24
Exp function. Medcalc. 2019. [Internet] Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 May 09].  Back to cited text no. 25
e (mathematical constant). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2019. [Internet] Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 May 09].  Back to cited text no. 26
Shell-Gellasch A. Napier's e-Napier. Mathematical society of America. 2019. [Internet] Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 May 09].  Back to cited text no. 27
Leypoldt JK, Cheung AK, Agodoa LY, Daugirdas JT, Greene T, Keshaviah PR. Hemodialyzer mass transfer-area coefficients for urea increase at high dialysate flow rates. Kidney Int 1997;51:2013-7.  Back to cited text no. 28
Cheung AK, Agodoa LY, Daugirdas JT, Depner TA, Gotch FA, Greene T, et al. The hemodialysis (HEMO) study group. Effects of Hemodialyzer Reuse on Clearances of Urea and β2-Microglobulin. JASN 1999;10:117-27.  Back to cited text no. 29
Fresenius Medical Care. Urea Kinetics: Impact of Urea Rebound and Residual Renal Function on the spKt/V and eKt/V Relationship. Advanced Renal Education Program. 2015 {Internet}. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Jun 21].  Back to cited text no. 30
HEMO Study Group, Daugirdas JT, Depner TA, Gotch FA, Greene T, Keshaviah P, et al. Comparison of methods to predict equilibrated Kt/V in the HEMO Pilot Study. Kidney Int 1997;52:1395-405.  Back to cited text no. 31
Zyga S, Sarafis P. Haemodialysis adequacy – contemporary trends. Health Sci J 2009;3:209-15.  Back to cited text no. 32
Standardized Kt/V. 2018. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 May 22].  Back to cited text no. 33
Calculating standardised Kt/V for the Scottish Renal Registry Annual Report. The Scottish Renal Registry. 2019. [Internet] Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Jun 09].  Back to cited text no. 34
Daugirdas JT, Depner TA, Greene T, Levin NW, Chertow GM, Rocco MV; for the Frequent Hemodialysis Network (FHN) Trial Group. Standard Kt/Vurea: A method of calculation that includes effects of fluid removal and residual kidney clearance. Kidney Int 2010;77:637-44.  Back to cited text no. 35
Rivara MB, Ravel V, Streja E, Obi Y, Soohoo M, Cheung AK, et al. Weekly standard Kt/Vurea and clinical outcomes in home and in-center hemodialysis. CJASN 2018;13:445-55.  Back to cited text no. 36
Hume R, Weyers E. Relationship between total body water and surface area in normal and obese subjects. J Clin Pathol 1971;24:234-8.  Back to cited text no. 37
Krishnan N. Limitations of Kt/V. Hemodialysis Kinetics 101. 2017 [Internet]. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Oct 15].  Back to cited text no. 38
Held PJ, Port FK, Wolfe RA, Stannard DC, Carroll CE, Daugirdas JT, et al. The dose of hemodialysis and patient mortality (Abstract). Kidney Int 1996;50:550-6.  Back to cited text no. 39
Collins AJ, Ma JZ, Umen A, Keshaviah P. Urea index and other predictors of hemodialysis patient survival (Abstract). Am J Kidney Dis 1994;23:272-82.  Back to cited text no. 40
Owen WF Jr, Lew NL, Liu Y, Lowrie EG, Lazarus JM. The urea reduction ratio and serum albumin concentration as predictors of mortality in patients undergoing hemodialysis (Abstract). N Engl J Med 1993;329:1001-6.  Back to cited text no. 41
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Hemodialysis: Dose & adequacy. NIH. June 2014 [Internet]. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Oct 15].  Back to cited text no. 42
Jindal K, Chan CT, Deziel C, Hirsch D, Soroka SD, Tonelli M, et al. CHAPTER 1: Hemodialysis adequacy in adults. JASN 2006;17 (3 suppl 1):S4-7.  Back to cited text no. 43
NKF KDOQI guidelines (2006). Clinical practice guidelines and clinical practice recommendations. Clinical practice guidelines for peritoneal dialysis adequacy. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Apr 30].  Back to cited text no. 44
Watnick S. Peritoneal Dialysis Adequacy. International society for peritoneal dialysis. April 2011. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Jun 08].  Back to cited text no. 45
Alayoud A, Montassir D, Hamzi A, Zajjari Y, Bahadi A, El Kabbaj D, et al. The Kt/V by ionic dialysance: Interpretation limits. Indian J Nephrol 2012;22:333-9.  Back to cited text no. 46
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Baxter. Revaclear dialyzer technology. n.d. [Internet] Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 May 08].  Back to cited text no. 47
Baxter. Polyflux 6H dialyzer. 2018. [Internet] Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 May 08].  Back to cited text no. 48
Rexeed L. Asahi Kasei Medical Co., Ltd. [Internet] Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 May 08].  Back to cited text no. 49
Commonly used dialyzer specifications and substitution chart for visiting patients BCL renal Agency. [Internet] Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 May 08].  Back to cited text no. 50
Fresenius Medical Care North America. Fresenius Optiflux, Hemoflow hollow fiber dialyzer. Package Insert. 2009 [Internet] Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 May 08].  Back to cited text no. 51


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


Print this article  Email this article


Indian Journal of Nephrology
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
Online since 20th Sept '07