Dialysis is a treatment that takes over your kidney functions if those organs stop performing their job. There are two types of dialysis:
Hemodialysis: Your blood is put through a filter outside of your body, cleaned, and then returned to your body. This is done either at a dialysis facility or at home.
Peritoneal dialysis: Your blood is cleaned inside your body. A special fluid is put into your abdomen to absorb waste from the blood that passes through small vessels in your abdominal cavity. The fluid is then drained away. This type of dialysis is typically done at home.
You typically start dialysis when you have symptoms or your lab tests show toxic levels of waste in your blood. Symtoms of kidney failure can include nausea, fatigue, swelling and vomitting.
When you should start dialysis depends on your age, energy level, overall health, lab test results and how willing you are to commit to a treatment plan. Although it can make you feel better and live longer, it is very time consuming.
Kidney Consultants of El Paso will diagnose you and let you know when you should start treatment, as well as explain which type might work best for you.
Hemodialysis requires you to need minor surgery to create a direct access to your bloodstream. This can be done in a few ways:
Fistula (also known as arteriovenous fistula or A-V fistula): An artery and vein are joined together under the skin in your arm. Most of the time, this is done in the one you don’t write with. An A-V fistula needs 6 weeks or longer to heal before it can be used for hemodialysis. Afterwards, it can be used for many years.
Graft (arteriovenous graft or A-V graft): A plastic tube is used to join an artery and vein under your skin. This heals in only 2 weeks, so you can start hemodialysis faster. This won’t last as long as a fistula, so you’ll likely need another graft after a few years.
Catheter (central venous catheter): This methods is an option if you need to start hemodialysis very quickly. A flexible tube (catheter) is put into a vein in your neck, below your collarbone, or next to your groin. It’s only meant to be used for a short time.
During hemodialysis, you’ll sit or lie back in a chair. A technician will place two needles in your arm where the fistula or graft is located. A pump in the hemodialysis machine slowly draws out your blood, then sends it through another machine called a dialyzer. This works like a kidney and filters out extra salt, waste, and fluid. Your cleaned blood is sent back into your body through the second needle in your arm. Or, if there is a catheter, blood comes out from one port and then is returned via a second port.
You can have hemodialysis in a hospital, treatment center, or at home. If you have it in a center, the sessions last 3 to 5 hours, and you’ll likely only need them three times a week. If you have hemodialysis at home, you’ll need treatments 6 or 7 days for 2 to 3 hours each time.
Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your belly to filter your blood. A few weeks before you start treatment, a catheter is placed near your navel. Once the area heals, you’ll be trained on how to do PD since you’ll be doing it yourself.
You’ll use the catheter to transfer dialysis solution from a bag into your belly. This special fluid contains water with salt and other additives. It soaks up waste and excess fluids inside your body. After a few hours, you’ll drain it out into a separate bag. This process is called an “exchange”.
There are two kinds of PD:
Continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD): This uses a machine to do your exchanges.
Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD): You’ll do your exchanges by hand.
You’ll likely do four to six exchanges each day. Your doctor can help you decide which type fits your lifestyle, though some people do both.
It shouldn’t hurt. If you have pain during or after treatment, tell your doctor right away. You may have side effects, though. Low blood pressure is common, but you could also have nausea, vomiting, dry or itchy skin, muscle cramps, or feel very tired.
You can lessen side effects by being careful about what you eat and drink. Kidney Consultants of El Paso will advise on how much fluid, protein, and salt you should have.
Kidney Consultants of El Paso can help you begin your journey with dialysis. We will monitor your progress every step of the way and be available to answer any and all questions you may have!
To schedule an appointment with our office, please fill out the form below and one of our staff members will contact you to schedule your appointment!