Dialysis…

Dialysis is a life sustaining process whereby the main kidney functions are done by a special machine. It is usually recommended to be done 3 times weekly for four hours.

Dialysis is a frightening word when voiced out to patients. Many patients when told that they will now need dialysis refuse the idea. Despite being explained the benefits of the treatment and the main side effect being that they will stay alive , it is mostly with much reluctance that they finally accept to start dialysis. I often tell them, to consider it as the start of a new life, instead of thinking of it as a fatality.

There are two main types of dialysis, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Hemodialysis (HD) is a process whereby the blood flows from the arm of the patient via an arteviovenous fistula (avf), through a special machine which filters it and returns the blood via the same arm.Hence, there is no exchange of blood involved, but rather, purification of blood from uremic toxins, and excess water that accumulates in the body.

An avf, is a connection between the artery and vein in the arm that allows a high blood flow for hemodialysis. It is a surgery that should be done at least six months before the Nephrologist decides the patient will need dialysis. It is not “ene l’appareil” that is put in the arm, as it is made up of natural tissues that are surgically connected together.

Peritoneal dialysis(PD) uses the same principles of filtration, but in another way. A special fluid is instilled in the patient’s abdomen via a previously placed artifical tube (peritoneal dialysis catheter) and left to dwell for a few hours. the process is repeated a few times daily to achieve the target, which is clearing the human body from toxins that build up.

The patient is connected via the tube to special bags of medical fluids during the exchange, and once done, packs his tube into a pocket, under sterile conditions and is free to roam about and do his usual business of the day.