What is Dialysis?
Dialysis is a treatment for people in the later stage of chronic kidney disease (kidney failure). This treatment cleans the blood and removes wastes and excess water from the body. Normally, this work is done by healthy kidneys.
Sometimes dialysis is a temporary treatment. However, when the loss of kidney function is permanent as in end-stage kidney failure), you must continue to have dialysis on a regular basis. The only treatment for kidney failure is a kidney transplant.
There are two types of dialysis:
- Peritoneal dialysis.
In Hemodialysis, your blood is passed through an artificial kidney machine to clean it, called a "dialysis membrane."
Peritoneal dialysis uses a filtration process similar to hemodialysis, but the blood is cleaned inside your body rather than in a machine.
What is hemodialysis?
Hemodialysis means “cleaning the blood” – and that is exactly what this treatment does. Blood circulated through a machine which contains a dialyzer (also called an artificial kidney). The dialyzer (also called an artificial kidney). The dialyzer has two spaces separated by a thin membrane. Blood passes through on one side of the membrane and dialysis fluid passes on the other. The wastes and excess water pass from the blood through the membrane into the dialysis fluid, which is then discarded. The cleaner blood is returned to your bloodstream.
How are you attached to the dialysis machine?
The first step before starting hemodialysis is to prepare a site on the body from which the blood is removed and returned.
You can be attached to the dialysis machine in different ways. The most common method is providing permanent access to the bloodstream for hemodialysis is an internal fistula in your arm.
A fistula is a bridge or connection between an artery and a vein, usually created by a surgeon. Needles can be inserted in the enlarged vein to connect to the dialysis machine. This involves having an artery and a vein connected surgically. When they are joined, the stronger blood flow front the artery causes the vein to become larger. Needles can be inserted in the enlarged vein to connect you to the dialysis machine.
Another method is to provide access to the bloodstream to insert an internal graft. This is when an artery is surgically connected to a vein with a short piece of special tubing placed under the skin. Needles can be inserted in this graft.
Central Venous Catheter
Sometimes, when it is necessary to gain access to the bloodstream quickly, or when the veins in the arms are too small to provide enough blood for hemodialysis, a central venous catheter is used. This is a soft tube that is surgically inserted into a large vein in the neck or near the collarbone. This method is usually temporary until a permanent access site is ready.
Does hemodialysis hurt?
Insertion of the needles may cause pain, but only for a brief time. This can be difficult for some people. Occasionally nausea, muscle cramps or dizziness can occur due to the fast removal of extra water from your body, which may cause your blood pressure to drop.
How long does hemodialysis take?
Each hemodialysis treatment normally takes four to five hours, and usually three treatments a week are needed. Hemodialysis treatment normally takes anywhere between three to five hours, and usually requires three treatments a week. Only a small amount of blood is outside of the body at one time. Therefore blood must circulate through the machine many times before it is cleaned.
Where hemodialysis can be done?
Hemodialysis may be done in a hospital dialysis unit.
You will need to learn appropriate food choices to meet your nutritional needs, and control the build-up of food wastes and water. Your dietitian will work with you to design an individual eating plan that is healthy and enjoyable. Medications and vitamins may also be prescribed.
What other changes are needed with hemodialysis?
You will need to plan your week around your hemodialysis schedule. You may have to take time off work or school before you start hemodialysis and when the treatments begin. Depending on your energy level, you may have to make some adjustments in your work situation or limit your activities.
What type of dialysis treatment is best?
The type of dialysis treatment you receive depends on what is most appropriate for your particular needs. Each type of dialysis has its strengths and limitations. Your healthcare team can provide information and support to help you understand all options, and answer questions you or your family may have.
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