All you need to know about dialyzers and hemodialysis
Kidneys are one of the most important organs of the human body. It performs multiple functions, including purification of blood and urine generation. Hemodialysis is performed when kidneys malfunction or fail to execute its functions. The procedure is done via a hemodialysis machine which replicates the functions of the kidneys. The device filters the bloodstream of toxins and also maintains electrolyte balance. Hemodialysis is usually done when only 10-15% of kidney functions are working.
There are two medical devices used for hemodialysis; a dialyzer, which is also known as an artificial kidney, and a hemodialysis machine. To allow the blood to flow inside the dialyzer, the doctor makes an incision to gain access into the patient’s blood vessels. A small surgery is performed to make the incision. The arm is the usual spot where the operation is performed. During the hemodialysis process, needles are inserted into the patient’s fistula or graft, which can be painful.
A dialyzer has two sections. One section is used for the blood and the other is used for a washing fluid called dialysate. A thin membrane separates the two parts of the device. Protein, blood cells, and other vital substances remain inside the blood as they are too big in size to pass through the membrane. Smaller waste products such as urea, potassium, and creatinine, along with other fluids pass through the membrane and flow out of the body.
Reusing dialyzers is safe if done correctly. However, before reusing it, healthcare establishments should clean the equipment following some specific guidelines. Before hemodialysis sessions, they should be appropriately tested to ensure that they’re functional. If not, then hospitals must provide patients with new ones and appropriately discard the used ones. If patients do not wish to reuse a dialyzer, then hospitals may provide them with a new machine.
Hemodialysis sessions are done3-4 times a week. Each session generally lasts for 4 hours but may vary depending on the severity of the failure and various other factors. Patients who choose to undergo the sessions at home might require 4-7 sittings. Usually, dialysis sessions at home take lesser hours. When a person suffers sudden and acute kidney failure, hemodialysis sessions are done for a shorter span of time and can result in the kidneys functioning better. However, during chronic kidney illnesses which lead to kidney failures, the organs don’t return to normalcy. In such cases, the patient will need hemodialysis treatment for life, until and unless they get a kidney transplant.