What is Hemodialysis

Hemodialysis is a mechanical process used to clean your blood and remove extra fluid when your kidneys no-longer function correctly.

A dialysis machine contains a filter called a dialyzer that is used to clean your blood. The machine obtains access to your blood via blood vessels usually in your arm.

The dialyzer has two parts, one for your blood and one for a washing fluid called dialysate. A thin membrane separates these two parts. Blood cells, protein and other important things remain in your blood because they are too big to pass through the membrane. Smaller waste products in the blood, such as urea, creatinine, potassium and extra fluid pass through the membrane and are washed away.

You need dialysis if your kidneys no longer remove enough wastes and fluid from your blood to keep you healthy. This usually happens when you have only 10 to 15 percent of your kidney function left. You may have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, swelling and fatigue. However, even if you don't have these symptoms yet, you can still have a high level of wastes in your blood that may be toxic to your body. Your doctor is the best person to tell you when you should start dialysis.

For informational purposes only. This is not intended to be medical advice. Please consult your doctor.