How does hemodialysis work?

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Hemodialysis is a treatment that replaces the work of your own kidneys to clear wastes and extra fluid from your blood. This is done using a special filter called a dialyzer. Your blood travels through plastic tubing to the dialyzer, where it is cleaned and then returned to your body.

To get your blood into the dialyzer, the doctor needs to make an access, or entrance, into your blood vessels. This is done with minor surgery, usually to your arm. At the beginning of each treatment, two needles are placed into your access. These needles are connected to the plastic tubing that carries your blood to the dialyzer.

Only a small amount of blood remains outside of your body at any given time. The dialysis machine pumps your blood through the dialysis system and controls the treatment time, temperature, fluid removal and pressure.

This basic process is the same for home hemodialysis, except that you and a care partner are trained to do your treatment at home.

Continue Learning about Dialysis

Dialysis

Healthy kidneys remove waste from your blood and produce hormones your body needs. If your kidneys fail, you either need a kidney transplant or dialysis. Dialysis is a procedure that uses a machine to perform many of the functions ...

of the kidney. Dialysis can help prevent problems resulting from kidney failure and it allows people with kidney failure to live productive lives. Dialysis filters your blood, and like a health kidney, removes waste from your blood. Patients using dialysis are also required to follow a strict diet in order to stay healthy. There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. There are different advantages and disadvantages with both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Talk to your doctor about which type of dialysis would work better for you.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.