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What is Kidney Dialysis and Why is it Needed?

what is kidney dialysis and why is it needed
Dr. Monika Bhanushali
Dr. Monika Bhanushali
April22/ 2016

Dialysis is a process which has similar functions to a kidney. The kidney’s functions are to remove the nitrogenous waste products, excessive water and toxins from the body. These waste products are dangerous to health if they stay in the body for a long duration. The kidneys also produce some regulators which help in the production of red blood cells and maintain the health of the bones.

When due to some causes, the kidney doesn’t work properly; this condition is called as kidney failure. In this condition, there is build up of harmful toxic substances in the body, rise in the blood pressure and retention of water which can lead to swelling of the body also called as edema.

With the help of a procedure, these toxic substances and excessive can be filtered from the body. This artificial detoxifying process is called as dialysis. And it is conducted with the help of dialysis machine. Dialysis is conducted in individuals whose kidneys are not functioning properly. It can be done temporarily in order to let the kidneys recover or it has to be done on a regular basis throughout the life if the kidneys have failed permanently and the patients is not fit for a kidney transplant. The people having lost 85% to 90% of their kidney function require dialysis.

The processes of waste removal and fluid removal by a dialysis machine act on the principle of diffusion and ultrafiltration respectively. Dialysis partially replaces the kidneys, as the endocrine functions of the kidney are not addressed by dialysis procedure.


The total blood from the body is dialysed i.e. sent through the dialysis machine for removing the toxic-harmful products and water. In order to remove the blood from the body and simultaneously circulate it in the body, a fistula (surgically created connection between two vessels) is created in the one of the forearms of the patient. This fistula is created to connect a major artery and vein in the forearm.

Fistula is mostly created in the patients who are going to be needing dialysis for a long duration of time. For temporary basis, the access to the blood vessels is created through the vessels in the groin. At the time of dialysis, tubes are hooked to this fistula, and the blood is passed through the dialysis machine slowly. The machine removes the toxic waste products and excess water from the body. It maintains a good balance between the various minerals such as sodium and potassium in the blood.

The duration of the dialysis varies according to the fluid gain, weight of the patient, existing kidney function, and the amount of waste generation. Prior to the dialysis, doctors may advice to do kidney function tests which tell them the amount of waste products collected. It also depends on the type of the machine used for the dialysis. It usually takes 4-5 hours to complete 1 cycle of dialysis.

Dialysis procedure does not cause pain or discomfort but some patients may complain of head ache, cramps, nausea and vomiting due to resulting low blood pressure.

This is a continuous treatment which will be needed to do throughout the life if the kidneys have failed and a kidney transplant is not possible.

Dr. Monika Bhanushali
Dr. Monika Bhanushali

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