Definition of Dialysis

Also called: kidney dialysis

The main purpose of dialysis is to help impaired renal function. When your kidneys are damaged, they are no longer able to remove wastes and excess fluid from your bloodstream efficiently. Wastes such as nitrogen and creatinine build up in the bloodstream. If you have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD), your doctor will have these levels carefully monitored. Before dialysis, patients often felt weak and ill. Dialysis brings relief from these symptoms. This is the primary benefit of dialysis.

Dialysis is done by using a special fluid called dialysate. Dialysate, a mixture of pure water and chemicals, is carefully controlled to pull wastes out of your blood without removing substances your body needs. A semipermeable membrane (one with microscopic holes that allow only certain types of particles to pass through) keeps the blood apart from the dialysate. This membrane lets the wastes and fluid in your blood flow through into the dialysate. Your blood cells and larger molecules, like protein that you need, cannot fit through the holes. There are two main types of kidney dialysis: hemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD).

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