Dialysis is a treatment that takes over the job of your kidneys if they
. The kidneys have many functions that help your body stay healthy. They help clear toxins out of your blood and help your body balance salt levels. Most patients begin dialysis when their kidneys have lost 85%-90% of their ability. You may be on dialysis for a short time, or you may need it for the rest of you life (or until you receive a kidney transplant), depending on the reason for your kidney failure.
If you have kidneys that are not working and the damage is not reversible, you have end stage enal disease (ESRD). ESRD is caused by conditions such as diabetes,
kidney cancer, drug use,
high blood pressure, or other kidney problems. Dialysis is not a cure for ESRD, but it does help you feel better and live longer.
There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. This fact sheet will focus on hemodialysis.
Reasons for Procedure
The main functions of hemodialysis are to:
Remove waste and excess fluid from your blood
Control blood pressure
Keep a safe level of salts in the body, such as potassium, sodium, and chloride
It may also be done to remove toxins from the bloodstream quickly. This can be used in cases of poisoning or drug overdose.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have hemodialysis, your doctor will review a list of possible complications. These may include:
Disruption of calcium and phosphorus balance, resulting in weakened bones
Also, having heart problems is a factor that may increase the risk of complications from hemodialysis.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Usually, before your first hemodialysis, you will have some sort of tubing attached to a large vein to make blood flow from your body to the machine and back more easily. If you will be on hemodialysis for a long time, you may have had surgery to create a shunt or a fistula, which makes access to a large vein easier. Fistulas may need as long as 2–3 months to fully heal before they can be used. They are not used if the treatment is temporary. They are typically created many months before hemodialysis begins.
Other things that will happen before your hemodialysis are:
Weight, blood pressure, and temperature are taken.
Topical anesthetic (a pain-numbing medicine) is usually applied to the area of needle insertion, if needle insertion is needed.
Hemodialysis is done at a dialysis center or hospital. It may be done at home with assistance.
During the procedure, blood is filtered through an artificial kidney machine, called a dialyzer. The blood travels from your body to the machine through tubes inserted into a large vein in your body. Once the blood is filtered in the machine, it travels back into your body through another tube.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a