Dialysis or hemodialysis? Understand the differences!

The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located in the upper-posterior part of the abdomen. Its main function is to filter the blood, eliminating toxins and excess salt and water from the bloodstream.

The proper functioning of the body depends a lot on the kidneys. Therefore, it is necessary to take special care to avoid possible kidney problems, which can lead to insufficiency and the need for dialysis or hemodialysis.

Follow today’s post to learn more about the subject and understand the difference between these two types of treatment.

How does the kidneys work?

In addition to filtering, the kidneys are also responsible for regulating blood and bone formation, taking care of blood pressure and controlling the body’s chemical and fluid balances.

The filtration performed by the kidneys aims to keep the body free of toxins. It is made using thousands of tiny filters, which “choose” the substances that remain in the body and those that must be eliminated in the urine.

All the blood passes several times through the kidneys to be filtered.

What can cause kidney failure?

For various reasons, the kidneys can be damaged, causing the filtration to not be performed correctly. This leads to an accumulation of certain toxins in the blood, which should be eliminated.

We call it kidney failure when the kidney is unable to filter the blood and eliminate toxins.

It can be acute (sudden loss of the kidney’s ability to filter) or chronic (slow decrease in kidney function).

Acute kidney failure can be caused by blockage in the ureters, a condition that slows blood flow to the kidney, or use of some medications.

The chronic condition is usually caused by diseases that slowly affect the kidneys ( diabetes  and hypertension, for example).

What are the differences between dialysis and hemodialysis?

The build-up of toxins in the blood that happens when the kidneys stop working is dangerous for the body and can lead to death.

Therefore, when renal failure occurs, it is necessary that the person undergoes a substitution treatment that will promote the removal of toxins from the blood: peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis.

Peritoneal dialysis promotes filtration with a machine and an inserted catheter. The equipment infuses a serum in the abdomen, which absorbs toxins through the membrane that covers the abdominal organs, the peritoneum. There is no direct contact with the blood. Other features are:

  • can be performed at the patient’s home;
  • it can be performed in stages during the day or a longer stage while the patient sleeps.

Hemodialysis is the other type of dialysis, which performs filtration with a specialized machine. She receives the patient’s blood through a catheter or an arteriovenous fistula and removes toxins. This happens with the help of a solution and a semipermeable membrane.

After filtration, the blood is “returned” clean to the patient through a vascular access. The time required for hemodialysis varies according to the individual’s condition, being between two and four times a week, from 3 to 5 hours. This procedure can only be done in hospitals or specialized clinics .


by Abdullah Sam
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