Hemodialysis is a medical procedure performed to treat advance kidney failure (renal failure or end-stage renal disease). The abnormal or not functioning of kidney can lead to abnormal buildup of the waste products and fluid in the blood of a patient. In such cases the special machine (a dialysis machine) is used to filter waste products from the blood and to restore normal constituents to it –known as hemodialysis.
Preparation for the procedure
- Even with the advancement in procedure and equipment hemodialysis is still a complicated and inconvenient therapy that needs a coordinated team work of health care team, patient and patient’s family members.
- Generally, patient needs to go for another procedure; that is to create an “access” (a special ways of accessing the blood in the blood vessels) several weeks to months before actual hemodialysis begins. The access can be temporary or permanent depending on the condition of the patient and requirement.
- Dialysis may be done in a hospital, a clinic associated with a hospital, or a free-standing clinic
- The physician does a physical examination and checks the vital statistics of the patients such as Blood pressure, weight, temperature etc.
- Hemodialysis involves circulating the patient’s blood through special filters outside body known as extracorporeal circuit(ECC) or dialysis circuit
- Two needles are inserted into the patient’s vein or access site and are attached to the ECC (consist of plastic blood tubing, a filter known as a dialyzer-artificial kidney), and a dialysis machine that monitors and maintains blood flow and administers dialysate.
- The procedure may take 3-4 hours; usually most patient suffering from chronic renal failure needs to have hemodialysis for three sessions every week.
Risk and complication
- Usually, most patients can bear hemodialysis well; few of them may develop low blood pressure. Patient may experience lightheadness, shortness of breath, abdominal and muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting. However they can be managed by medicine and diet. Patient must follow the diet regime and take medicines regularly to avoid such side effects
- The other risks associated with hemodialysis include bleeding from the access site, dialyzer reaction, electrolyte imbalance, infection, anemia (due to blood loss) cardiovascular disease etc.
Uses of Hemodialysis
- Hemodialysis performed as a treatment procedure for patient suffering from acute and chronic renal failure. The dialysis removes toxins from the blood and maintains the electrolytes balance, thus it replaces some of the functions of not functioning kidneys.
- Hemodialysis is also useful in cases of drug over dosage or poisoning.
- Travelers should plan in advance for the hemodialysis procedure and should select a destination after doing through research about the hospital, place, staff and language, weather etc.
- Book the easily assessable, comfortable room of the hotel placed near the hospital
- Inform the nephrologists and staff about medical history, recent test results, treatment records, a list of medications, insurance information and any special requirements in advance.
- Carry extra medications and written prescriptions and a list of healthcare provider contact information.
- Keep a book to read or other things to keep you busy during hemodialysis.