46,753 People Have Attended a Kidney Smart Class Since 2013

Join them & register for a no-cost kidney health class in your neighborhood. Find a Class Near Me »

Hemodialysis

Also called: hemo

Hemodialysis is a therapy that filters waste, removes extra fluid and balances electrolytes (sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, chloride, calcium, magnesium and phosphate). In hemodialysis, blood is removed from the body and filtered through a man-made membrane called a dialyzer, or artificial kidney, and then the filtered blood is returned to the body. The average person has about 10 to 12 pints of blood; during dialysis only one pint (about two cups) is outside of the body at a time. To perform hemodialysis there needs to be an access created to get the blood from the body to the dialyzer and back to the body.

The dialyzer is the key to hemodialysis. The dialyzer is called the artificial kidney because it filters the blood — a job the kidneys used to do. The dialyzer is a hollow plastic tube about a foot long and three inches in diameter that contains many tiny filters. There are two sections in the dialyzer; the section for dialysate and the section for the blood. The two sections are divided by a semipermeable membrane so that they don’t mix together. A semipermeable membrane has microscopic holes that allow only some substances to cross the membrane. Because it is semipermeable, the membrane allows water and waste to pass through, but does not allow blood cells to pass through.

Related articles on DaVita.com

External links

Organizations

Download a Cookbook

Get a free recipe collection from the DaVita® kitchen.

Get the Cookbooks

122,881 Downloads So Far!

Meet Your Local Kidney Expert

Register for a no-cost, 90-minute training session taught by a certified instructor in your neighborhood.

Find a Class Near Me

Find a Dialysis Center

Advanced Search

Call 1-800-424-6589 now to talk to one of our placement specialists.

New to Dialysis?

Learn which DaVita service may best fit your lifestyle.

Explore Options
Back to Top