Chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injury (also known as acute renal failure) cause the kidneys to lose their ability to filter and remove waste and extra fluid from the body. Hemodialysis is a process that uses a man-made membrane (dialyzer) to:
For hemodialysis, you are connected to a filter (dialyzer) by tubes attached to your blood vessels. Your blood is slowly pumped from your body into the dialyzer, where waste products and extra fluid are removed. The filtered blood is then pumped back into your body.
There are different types of hemodialysis. Talk about these with your doctor to decide which one might be best for you.
Before treatments can begin, your doctor will need to create a site where the blood can flow in and out of your body during the dialysis sessions. This is called the dialysis access. The type of dialysis access you have will depend in part on how quickly you need to begin hemodialysis.
There are different types of access for hemodialysis:
Hemodialysis for acute kidney injury may be done daily until kidney function returns.
What To Expect After Treatment
About once a month, you will have blood tests to make sure you are getting the right amount of hemodialysis. These tests are done to help find out how well hemodialysis is working. Your weight before and after each session will be recorded, as will the length of time it takes to complete the dialysis session. If you have hemodialysis at home, you will need to keep records of your weight before and after each session and the length of each session.
Why It Is Done
Hemodialysis is often started after symptoms or complications of kidney failure develop. Symptoms or complications may include:
Hemodialysis is sometimes used when acute kidney injury develops. Dialysis is always used with extra caution in people who have acute kidney injury, because dialysis can sometimes cause low blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), and other problems that can make acute kidney injury worse.
How Well It Works
Hemodialysis may improve your quality of life and increase your life expectancy. But hemodialysis provides only about 10% of normal kidney function. It does not reverse chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.
Dialysis has not been shown to reverse or shorten the course of acute kidney injury. But it may be used when fluid and electrolyte problems are causing severe symptoms or other problems. Some people who develop acute kidney injury stay dependent on hemodialysis and will go on to develop kidney failure.
Most complications that occur during dialysis can be prevented or easily managed if you are monitored carefully during each dialysis session. Possible complications may include:
Long-term complications of dialysis may include:
What To Think About
Choosing between treatment with hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis is based on your lifestyle, other medical conditions, and body size and shape. Talk to your doctor about which type would be best for you.
If you have severe chronic kidney disease and you have not yet developed kidney failure, talk with your doctor about which type of dialysis might work best for you.
People who have widely fluctuating blood pressure when they receive hemodialysis (hemodynamic instability) may not be able to continue with treatment. They may be switched to peritoneal dialysis.
Many people first receive dialysis while waiting for a kidney transplant. Some people may have to receive dialysis again if the kidney transplant fails.
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