Dialysis is a therapeutic procedure designed to take over the functioning of kidneys if both kidneys are unable to properly do their job.
The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs, just beneath the rib cage, on either side of the body. They are a part of the urinary system. Normally, the kidneys work to eliminate waste products and extra fluids from the blood, regulate the blood pressure, balance out minerals like potassium and sodium in the blood, produce hormones that have a role in RBC production, and keep the bones strong.
Dialysis involves diverting the blood of a patient with failing kidneys to a dialysis machine for cleaning the blood. The machine works just like normal kidneys do.
Who needs dialysis?
Dialysis is recommended when:
- kidney disease has become very severe or the patient is diagnosed with end-stage renal failure (stage 5);
- kidneys are not able to function properly as needed to maintain bodily functions, meaning they have 10 to 15% of their normal function;
- the patient presents symptoms of kidney failure such as nausea, fatigue, throwing up, and swelling;
- the lab test reports and the patient’s symptoms indicate the presence of toxic levels of body wastes in the blood; and
- the patient is waiting for a donor kidney for a transplant and so needs dialysis to survive till the surgery.
Kidney disease can develop due to unknown reasons or be caused by an injury or medical conditions. Lupus, diabetes, and hypertension are all possible causes of kidney disease. Exactly when is dialysis recommended or started depends upon the patient’s age, general health, energy level, lab test results, and how willing is the patient to commit to the treatment plan.
Consulting a kidney specialist helps in knowing when is the right time to start the treatment with dialysis and also about which type of dialysis works best in your case.
What to expect during dialysis?
Before starting with dialysis, the patient’s vitals such as blood pressure and temperature are checked and the body weight is measured.
There are two main kinds of dialysis which the patient can undergo- haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
During haemodialysis, the patient is asked to lie down or sit comfortably and is stuck with a needle in his/her arm. The needle is attached to a tube which is further connected to a dialyzer- the dialysis machine in the body’s external. As the dialyzer is switched on, the patient’s blood is passed through the tube into the dialyzer to filter the blood before it is returned to the arm via another tube. At a dialysis centre/facility, this procedure is carried out usually 3 days a week with each session lasting for about 4 hours. A home dialysis schedule could be 4 times a week for 4 hours, 5 times a week for 3 hours, or 6 days a week for overnight (8 hours).
During peritoneal dialysis, there is no use of a dialysis machine, instead peritoneum- the inside lining of the abdomen, is used as a filter for blood. For filtering of the blood through the peritoneum, an incision is made near the navel of the patient and a catheter is inserted through it to reach the peritoneal cavity- inside space of the abdomen. The catheter tube is permanently placed inside the abdominal space and fluid is pumped into the peritoneal cavity through the catheter. As the blood or fluids pass through the cavity, the blood vessels lining the cavity help filter out the waste products and excess fluids from the blood into the dialysis fluid. The used fluid is drained into a urine bag after a few hours and later replaced with fresh fluid. The changing of fluid takes 30 to 40 minutes and is done 4 times a day.
The Working Of The Dialysis Machine
The dialysis machine helps mix and monitor the dialysate and even monitors the blood flow outside the body. Dialysate is made up of an acidified solution (electrolytes and minerals), bicarbonate, and purified water. It is a dialysis fluid that helps in the removal of wastes and extra fluids from the blood and even helps in balancing the levels of electrolytes and minerals in the body.
During the dialysis, the fresh dialysate in the plastic jugs present in front of the dialysis machine enters the dialyzer. The blood impurities are filtered out of the blood into the dialysate. Through another tube in the machine, the used dialysate is removed along with excess fluids and waste products and washed down the drain. The tubes that carry blood from the access to the dialyser machine are threaded through a pump that pushes blood through the dialyzer and back into the body, just as blood is pumped through the kidneys. To prevent clotting of the blood through the blood tubing heparin is administered into the blood tubing with the help of a syringe.
The dialysis machine beeps alarms if blood pressure and flow inside the blood tubing and dialyzer and temperature and mixing of the dialysate are not right. If you are looking for the best dialysis machine, contact the experts at Trivitron Healthcare.