Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Dialysis : What is it?

The procedure is used when the kidneys stop working therefore instead of sending blood to kidneys, dialysis diverts  blood to a machine that works just like the kidney and cleanses the blood by removing waste products and excess fluids from the blood.

When is there a need for dialysis?

If the kidneys are not working properly, because there may be advanced chronic kidney disease or kidney failure or they kidneys may not be able to clean the blood properly. With the kidney's not working properly this may lead to high levels of toxins in the blood. If not addressed in time this may lead to dangerous levels of unwanted substances in the blood and also be fatal. Dialysis filters these unwanted substances, before kidney failure or malfunction lead to serious consequences .

How long does a person need to be on dialysis?

This depends on the medical condition of the person. Where a kidney failure is temporary, timely dialysis can help a person recover without causing irreparable  damage to the kidney. However, in most cases a person with kidney failure would require a kidney transplant, although that may not be possible right away. So until a suitable donor kidney becomes available dialysis will be needed. Nevertheless, in situations where a major surgery is not possible because a person's current state of health may not permit a major operation like a kidney transplant, dialysis would be indispensable for the rest of their life.

What happens during Dialysis?


This is the most common type of dialysis that usually most people are aware of. The procedure takes about four hours and is carried out three times a week. A needle is inserted in the arm and thereafter the blood flows through it into a machine which purifies it and the pure blood is then sent back into the body through another tube injected in the arm. 

Peritoneal dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis filter blood by using the inner lining of the abdomen (the peritoneum) as a filter, rather than a machine. The peritoneum is similar in structure to a kidney containing thousands of tiny blood vessels making it a useful substitute to filtering blood.
At the beginning of the treatment a catheter is permanently inserted into the abdomen by making a small incision near the belly button. This is left there in place permanently.

Fluid is pumped into the peritoneal cavity through the catheter which sucks out the impurities and excess fluids from the blood while it is passing through the tiny blood vessels in the lining of the peritoneum.  The used fluid is drained and replaced with fresh fluid every few hours usually takes about 30-40 minutes, repeated around four times a day. 

How to choose which type of dialysis is suitable for me?

While on dialysis you can lead a normal life if you are fit otherwise.Whether it is swimming, driving, working or going on a holiday. Being on haemodialysis gives a person four treatment free days a week, but the sessions lasts longer and a person may have to go to the hospital each time. The procedure can cause itchy skin and muscular cramps. It is suitable in cases where a person is in a poor state of health or unable to perform peritoneal dialysis on his own due to some reason such as being visually impaired or having dementia. Peritoneal dialysis can be done at home even while you sleep and doesn't need frequent hospital visits,  however it needs to be done daily. It's usually suitable in children under 2 years of age, adults without serious heart conditions or cancer and people with limited kidney function. The procedure can put a person at the risk of developing an infection in the thin membrane that surrounds the abdomen.

Being on dialysis doesn't fully compensate for loss of kidney function because not having fully functional kidneys places a significant strain on the body.   


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