Dialysis

The body is cleansed through artificial filter systems and waste products from the blood are removed. Dialysis is of two types.

Hemodialysis

A machine called dialyzer or artificial kidney removes excess water and salt, in order to balance the other electrolytes in the body, and also remove waste products of metabolism. The blood from the body is made to flow through tubing into the machine. Within the machine the blood passes next to a filter membrane. A specialized chemical solution (dialysate) flows on the other side of the membrane a special chemical solution called dialysate formulated to remove impurities flows. Through the filter membrane the dialysate draws away the impurities from the blood and filter it.

  • AV fistula procedure
    Here access to the blood vessels is surgically created so that large amount of blood flows into the machine from the body and back. When dialysis needle is inserted into vein over time and repeatedly, it causes scarring of the veins and may damage the vein. So an arteriovenous fistula to establish connection between a large artery and vein in the body will have to be created surgically. This AV fistula widens the vein by connecting it to a nearby artery. It is normally created in the forearm. This makes the walls of the veins to thicken and make them wider. So the veins are now able tolerate repeated needle attacks which attach the tubing and the body. The rate of blood flow is also quickened. Since the fistula may take many weeks to mature significant planning is required while employing them.

In case of acute failures there may not be enough time to build a fistula. In such cases a special catheter is inserted into the blood vessels of arm, chest, or legs. These catheters are kept for a period of 3 weeks. In most cases dialysis is temporary, for prolonged dialysis situations the catheters act as a bridge between the tubing, and the body until a fistula is planned and matured.

Peritoneal dialysis

Here the lining of the abdominal cavity is used as the dialysis filter. A catheter is placed in the abdominal cavity by making incisions on the abdominal wall and is a permanent surgery. The dialysis solution or dialysate drips in through the catheter. It remains in the abdominal cavity for a few hours and after absorbing the waste products from the blood. The waste products leech from the blood through the abdominal linings. Then it is drained out.

The dialysis is carried out three times a week and takes only a few hours. Depending upon the patient and his medical conditions, the mode of dialysis is different. It is life saving procedure without which a person whose kidneys do not function at all will die more quickly due to toxic build up in the body and electrolyte imbalance.