Hemodialysis (HD), a very expensive procedure, is given, either on emergency basis or on long-term basis, to those patients who are at the end stage renal failure. The whole process of removing blood from the body, and filtering it, before returning it to the body is called hemodialysis. Hemodialysis, also called dialysis, falls under the category of medical treatment.
During dialysis, the blood pressure is kept in check, and the salt and water balance in the body is maintained. Renal failure happens when the kidney function goes below 10 percent to 15 percent, and the kidneys are not able to filter blood to make urine. As a result, toxins build up in the body along with excess fluid.
Many patients, who undergo hemodialysis for long-term, receive this treatment at home, instead of getting going to a clinic or being admitted to a hospital each time dialysis is necessary. However, some patients go to a clinic two or three times a week to be dialyzed. In an emergency situation, a patient would likely be admitted to a hospital for dialysis until he/she is stabilized. In the clinic and hospital setting, a dialysis nurse or hemodialysis technician would take care of the patient’s dialysis.
Hemodialysis procedure normally involves the following steps:
The patient will have either a permanent graft or fistula surgically implanted to connect the vein and artery to the hemodialysis machine or the patient may have a temporary port device that is a type of catheter that has access ports on it.
Once the access is ready, the patient can be connected to the dialysis machine via a needle into the access device. Blood will begin to flow into the dialyzer. The nurse or technician will give you an injection of a blood thinner, called Heparin. The blood thinner keeps the blood from clotting while the blood is flowing out through the tubing to the dialyzer (artificial kidney).
When the blood is inside of the artificial kidney, it is run through lots of tubes, which are surrounded by a canister filled with a fluid called dialysate. Dialysate is a fluid bath that cleans your blood. The impurities are diffused out of the blood by a process of osmosis. The waste products that would normally be filtered out by a healthy kidney move from a higher concentration of wastes to a lower concentration of waste products through a semi-permeable membrane. Once the waste products are removed the blood is sent back to the body through an arterial port in the access device.
The hemodialysis technician works under the supervision of a registered nurse; the technician prepares the patient for dialysis and closely monitors the patient and the machine during dialysis. The technician performs the required procedures, such as monitoring vital signs regularly until the completion of the dialysis treatment.
It is important that hemodialysis patients follow the prescribed diet. Most people on dialysis are on a renal diet. The doctor and dietician will likely advise the patient to eat a low sodium renal diet to prevent fluid retention. Liquids must be closely monitored, because drinking too much can cause excess fluid retention that will need to be removed on the next dialysis treatment. Patients who have an excess amount of fluid removed from their bodies are at risk for hypovolemic shock, caused from low blood pressure. Hypovolemic shock is a potentially life threatening condition.