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Preface and Contents


Meaning and Indication

Dialysis is a procedure by which waste products and excess water that accumulate in renal failure are removed from the body artificially. It is a life-saving technique for patients with End Stage Kidney Disease (ESKD) or Acute Kidney Injury.

How does dialysis help people with severe kidney failure?

Dialysis helps the body by performing the following functions of failed kidneys:

  • Purification of blood by removal of waste products such as creatinine, urea etc.
  • Removal of excess fluid and maintenance of the right amount of water in the body.
  • Correction of electrolyte and acid-base balance disturbances.

However, dialytic therapy cannot replace all the functions of a normal kidney such as production of the hormone erythropoietin needed to maintain hemoglobin levels.

When is dialysis needed?

When the kidney function is reduced by 85-90% from the normal (ESKD) waste products and fluids build up in the body. The accumulation of toxins such as creatinine and other nitrogenous waste products leads to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, swelling and breathlessness. These are collectively termed as uremia. At this point, medical management becomes inadequate and the patient will need to start dialysis.

Can dialysis cure chronic kidney disease?

No. Chronic kidney disease is irreversible and once a patient reaches Stage 5 (ESKD), lifelong dialysis treatments will be needed unless successful kidney transplantation is performed. On the other hand, a patient with AKI may need dialysis support only for a short period until kidney function recovers.

Dialysis is a prompt and effective treatment modality in symptomatic patients with severe kidney failure.