When your kidneys don’t work properly, toxins build up in your blood stream. Your body can’t get rid of acid and some minerals like potassium and phosphorus which leads to the blood stream becoming more acidic, and minerals like potassium and phosphate up which in turn have other deleterious effects. Over time, the volume of urine that you make reduces and excess water or other liquids can build up. This fluid can also be removed by HD. HD works by taking blood from your body and ‘cleaning it’ in a machine to remove the toxins. Blood is taken out of your body and run through a filter. Toxins move from your blood into dialysis fluid, and the dialysis fluid is then thrown away.
Hemodialysis is usually done 3 times/ week and each session is usually 3 ½ hrs each.
Dialysis is done via a port called catheter or via a graft or fistula. A fistula is made by joining an artery and a vein in your arm. Blood can then be removed from the body via a needle inserted into the fistula, so that it flows through the dialysis machine, before being returned to the body via another needle. Fistulas take time to ‘mature’. They are usually only ready to be used for dialysis about 6 – 8 weeks after they are formed. Sometimes a piece of tubing called a graft is used as an alternative to a fistula if your blood vessels are very fragile. If you need dialysis before your fistula or graft is ready or you are unable to have one made, then you can have HD through a special dialysis line in your neck called a catheter. This can be used immediately.