People with kidney failure who need dialysis have several treatment options available. One option is hemodialysis.
What is Hemodialysis?
Hemodialysis is a process that filters a person’s blood to remove excess fluid and waste products. Blood is pumped by a machine through a special filter called a dialyzer. The filtered blood is then returned to the body.
Only a small amount of blood is out of the body at any one time. The average person has about 10 to 12 pints of blood; during hemodialysis only one pint (about two cups) is outside of the body at a time. Blood needs to flow through the dialyzer for several hours in order to adequately remove the body’s excess waste and fluid.
Traditional, in-center hemodialysis is generally done three times a week for about four hours each session. Your doctor will prescribe a treatment that is right for you.
Learn more about in-center hemodialysis
In order to get a person’s blood from the body to the dialyzer and back to the body, a special access needs to be created. There are three types of accesses for hemodialysis:
Arteriovenous (AV) fistula
Central venous catheter
The AV fistula is the recommended type of vascular access. You and your doctor will decide which access is best for you. For more information about hemodialysis accesses click here.
One of the things that the kidneys do is to help the body produce red blood cells. As a person's kidneys decline they may become anemic. At the Skagit Valley Kidney Center we administer medications to help keep your red blood cells at a healthy level. For more information about anemia management click here.
Some people feel that dialysis lasts a long time; however, healthy kidneys work 24 hours a day,seven days a week, which equals 168 hours per week. Hemodialysis is four hours,three times a week, which equals only 12 hours per week to do the job.
It is important that dialysis patients come to every treatment and stay for the prescribed length of time. In order to help patients pass the time, Skagit Valley Kidney Center provides a television at each patient station and Wi-Fi for Internet access for patients with personal computers. Many of our patients still work and come to treatment either before or after their jobs, living an active and normal life.