Dialysis

Last Updated: June 28, 2018

Definition - What does Dialysis mean?

Dialysis refers to a filtering process. During dialysis smaller molecules are separated from larger ones by passing a solution containing both through a semipermeable membrane. Separation via dialysis is achieved because smaller molecules are able to pass through the membrane, while larger ones are not.

Kidney dialysis uses this separation process to filter impurities from the blood. This type of dialysis is prescribed as a treatment when the body's kidneys are not function properly. Dialysis removes waste, chemicals, and excess fluids from the blood using either an external artificial kidney, or specialized catheter. Kidney dialysis is necessary for individuals whose own kidneys have failed. However, kidney dialysis does not cure kidney failure. Instead, dialysis offers relief from the symptoms of renal failure.

WorkplaceTesting explains Dialysis

Two main types of dialysis are used to treat renal failure. Hemodialysis is performed by removing the blood from the body and allowing it to pass through a dialyzer, or artificial kidney. The blood is then returned to the body after it has been filter. This type of treatment can take up to four hours during which the blood is filtered several times. Individuals who are dependent on kidney dialysis must undergo treatment regularly. The frequency and duration of treatments will depend on the type of dialysis used and the severity of the underlying condition. A person's diet, fluid intake, and lifestyle may also affect how often dialysis is required.

An alternate method of dialysis, peritoneal dialysis (PD) filters the blood without removing it from the body. This process is achieved by injecting a solution called dialysate into the peritoneal cavity of the abdomen. For PD, the membrane around the peritoneal cavity serves as a natural filter and waste is collected in the dialysate. The dialysate is regularly removed and replaced with fresh solution in the abdominal cavity through a PD catheter.

Some patients in need of regular dialysis are able to use in-home methods of dialysis. Other patients receive treatment at a dialysis center. Individuals receiving dialysis will consult with a nephrologist, or kidney doctor, to determine the best course of treatment.

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