Dialysis is a procedure where a machine removes waste materials and excess water from your blood when your kidneys are not functioning properly. When your kidneys are working normally, they remove toxins, waste products and excess water from the blood and excrete it as urine. When the kidneys are damaged, such as in kidney disease or kidney failure, these harmful products build up in the blood, causing unpleasant symptoms and if left untreated can be fatal.
Sometimes dialysis may only be needed temporarily, and can be stopped when your kidneys are working normally again. However, often dialysis is required for a longer period of time as the kidneys are too damaged to work properly again. In this case, you will most likely need a kidney transplant and must continue with dialysis until donor is found.
There are two main types of dialysis- haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
Peritoneal dialysis is where the inside lining of your abdomen (peritoneum) is used as a filter rather than a machine. A small incision in made near your belly button and a small tube called a catheter is placed inside your abdomen. This catheter is left here permanently. A sterile liquid called a dialysate is run through the catheter into your abdomen. The liquid causes waste products and excess fluid to diffuse across the peritoneum and be filtered from the blood. This liquid is then removed from the abdomen, discarded and replaced with fresh dialysate. Replacing the fluid needs to be repeated 4-5 times a day and can usually be done by a machine overnight while you sleep.
It may be beneficial to talk to any family or friends who are going through dialysis to further understand what the procedure entails.
If you are having dialysis in a hospital, after the procedure the needles are removed, a plaster is put over your AV fistula and you can go home. If you are undergoing haemodialysis you usually have to limit the amount of fluid you drink, as the dialysis machine is not able to cope with too much fluid. You may also have to be careful with your diet as many minerals such as sodium and potassium that are normally filtered out by the kidneys may build up in your bloodstream. You are usually referred to a dietician who can help design a suitable diet.
As with any medical procedure there are associated risks and side effects. The most common side effect is fatigue, muscle cramps, itchy skin and weight gain. There is a risk of infection, either in the abdomen (peritonitis) or of the blood (sepsis), so you should go to your doctor is you feel dizzy or have a temperature.
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Doctify Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. In the event of an emergency, please call 999 for immediate assistance.