Dialysis (blood cleansing)

Dialysis is a form of artificial blood cleansing (detoxification). This procedure is used if a person’s kidneys only have very limited functioning due to some form of kidney disease. There are two types of dialysis: haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

Haemodialysis

In the case of haemodialysis, a dialysis machine is attached to the patient’s circulatory system using a dialysis fistula. Blood flows through this fistula into the dialysis machine where it is cleaned, then it flows back into the body.

What preparations are carried out before the procedure?

Before haemodialysis can be carried out, it is necessary to create a dialysis fistula. A dialysis fistula is a direct connection between an artery and a vein. The fistula is created surgically, usually in the lower arm, using a local anaesthetic.

How is the procedure performed?

Once the dialysis fistula has been created, it simply has to be punctured to carry out haemodialysis. The blood flows through the fistula into the dialysis machine, where it is cleaned before being returned to the body. The entire procedure takes four to five hours and usually has to be repeated three times a week.

What is the success rate of this procedure?

Haemodialysis is an effective procedure for blood purification. Several factors are taken into consideration to determine whether a patient will receive haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. The patient’s personal preference and flexibility play a key role in the decision.

What are the possible complications and risks of this procedure?

Inflammation of the vein or the fistula closure are complications that may arise as a result of haemodialysis.

What happens after the treatment?

People with limited kidney functioning must undergo dialysis for the rest of their lives. Dialysis patients are often on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. Most dialysis patients have to limit the amount they drink, how much salt they consume and must adhere to a strict diet in order to keep their phosphate level low.

Peritoneal dialysis

In the case of peritoneal dialysis, a catheter is used to introduce a special dialysis solution into the patient’s abdomen. The membrane that forms the lining of the abdominal cavity is called the peritoneum and it acts like a filter. After the dialysis solution has become mixed with the body’s waste products, it is then collected in a bag.

What preparations are carried out before the procedure?

A dialysis catheter is surgically inserted into the abdomen. This operation is performed under general anaesthetic using a minimally invasive laparoscopy technique. After the catheter has been inserted, it is fixed in place so that it can later be used for dialysis.

How is the procedure performed?

A bag containing the dialysis solution is attached to the catheter system, then the liquid is introduced into the abdomen. In the abdomen, the solution absorbs waste products from the blood via the peritoneum, which acts like a filter. Afterwards the liquid containing the waste products is drained into an empty bag. For this procedure, the peritoneum essentially works like a kidney. After the patient has received detailed instructions, they can perform peritoneal dialysis at home and change the bag themselves.

What is the success rate of this procedure?

Peritoneal dialysis cleans the blood just as effectively as haemodialysis. The choice of procedure depends on various factors, including the patient’s personal preference.

 What are the possible complications and risks of this procedure?

With peritoneal dialysis, occasionally the wound where the catheter has been inserted can become infected. In rare cases inflammation of the peritoneum may develop and must be immediately treated with antibiotics.

What happens after the treatment?

Like haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis must be carried out for the rest of the patient’s life, or until they receive a kidney transplant.

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