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Even now its difficult to find very good information on the Web.

The history of peritoneal dialysis is described quite well in an article that was once on the International Society for PD site. You can still find the ISPD history of PD document, maybe it is linked from here.

The ISN Video Legacy project provides remarkable interviews with Abel and Kolff, two major players in the initial development of haemodialysis. The ISN's historical resources unfortunately now require a members login, but if you have one they are available here.

Stanley Shaldon's online lecture, from a talk in Osaka in 2001, includes a fascinating, prolifically illustrated personal account of the excitements and disappointments of the early days of haemodialysis. It is demanding of internet connection speeds and software, but worth watching.
There was a great Quicktime movie about the use of the Kolff Brigham dialysis machine in the Korean War on the website of the nephrology section of the Walter Reed Army Center. But it's gone. Let us know if you find it, and we'll point to it.

Books on the history of dialysis

The best history of dialysis is now Stewart Cameron's book: J.S. Cameron, History of the Treatment of Renal Failure by Dialysis (OUP, Oxford, 2002).

Previously the best earlier account was by William Drukker and was chapter 3 in the third edition of Replacement of Renal Function by Dialysis, edited by John F. Maher, published by Kluwer, 1989. His account of the history of peritoneal dialysis, chapter 22 in the same volume, was also good but less comprehensive.

Nephrology more widely

Richard Bright is widely regarded as the father of nephrology because of his classic descriptions of nephritis in the 1840s. He was a graduate of Edinburgh University who spent much of his highly productive working life at Guy's Hospital in London. The account from the Roscoe Robinson History of Nephrology Collection at Vanderbilt University is worth reading.


And more

We also recommend these external resources on the History of Nephrology:

 Early dialysis 


Early nephrology

  • Richard Bright 1789-1858 - from the Roscoe Robinson Collection at Vanderbilt University: the first accounts of albuminuria and dropsy, published in Vol.1 of Reports of Medical Cases Selected with a View of Illustrating the Symptoms and Cure of Diseases by a Reference to Morbid Anatomy, 1827.
  • Robert Christison 1795-1882 - promoted and extended Bright's observations and first described renal anaemia, and was a founder of modern toxicology and major contributor to the first British Pharmacopoeia in 1864. Published On granular degeneration of the kidnies and its connexion with dropsy, inflammations, and other diseases in 1839.  Archives
  • Pierre Rayer 1793-1867 -  Some information - and a lot of information from Medical History (journal) 2005

General resources


Early development << | History | >> Edinburgh history

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This page last modified 29.11.2016 08:36 by ANT. edren and edrep are produced by the Renal Unit at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh. CAUTIONS and Contact us.