What is Hemodialysis?
Hemodialysis is a process of clearing toxins from the blood, balancing electrolytes, neutralizing acid and removing excess fluid from the human body after the kidneys are unable to do so. In hemodialysis, a machine circulates blood through a dialyzer. The machine precisely mixes purified water, electrolytes and buffers in proportions ordered by your nephrologist to specifically meet your body’s demands. Monitors are constantly evaluating your dialysis treatment and will alarm if any condition is out-of-range, ensuring your safety.
A dialyzer is a hard, plastic cylinder that contains thousands of very slender hollow fibers. These fibers are about the thickness of a human hair. As the blood passes through these fibers, microscopic pores in the fiber walls allow substances (fluid, toxins and wastes) to pass out of the blood. On the outside of the fibers, the solution made by the dialysis machine passes in the opposite direction and carries away the unwanted substances.
A dialysis facility must purify hundreds of gallons of water a day to ensure patients are not exposed to chemicals that could harm the body. This process produces the purest water available, helping to ensure a high quality treatment. A typical patient treatment requires 40 – 50 gallons of water.
A dialysis access (vascular access) is a pathway to the patient’s bloodstream that allows dialysis to occur. Many dialysis providers periodically test how well a dialysis access is working. Tests are performed during the treatment to monitor the blood flow and detect signs of clotting. If the access performs poorly, the dialysis treatments are not as effective and can impact the patient’s well-being.