Understanding How Dialysis Machines Work

For many people who are living with kidney disease, one of the many daunting parts of the treatment process is undergoing kidney dialysis. And so here in this post, our goal is to help you understand how dialysis machines work and how it can help you manage kidney disease. We believe that with this awareness comes lesser apprehensions and greater hope to live your best life possible.

What do dialysis machines do?

In simple words, the role of dialysis machines is to try to mimic the functions of a healthy human kidney. This is necessary as a renal patient’s kidneys cannot filter out waste products from the blood as needed anymore.

How does dialysis machines actually work?

To help you understand even better, here’s a general step-by-step explanation of how a typical dialysis machine works.

  1. Through a vascular access that is placed in the patient’s body by minor surgery, blood is removed and enters the dialysis machine.
  2. The blood flows through a dialysis tubing, a semipermeable membrane that contains pores large enough to allow diffusion—the movement of a substance from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration.
  3. A blood thinner may be prescribed to keep one’s blood from clotting while going through the dialysis machine.
  4. A pump and an arterial pressure monitor work hand-in-hand in keeping the blood flow at a right rate.
  5. The blood enters the dialyzer.
  6. A dialysate enters the dialyzer. Also called a dialysis solution, this is a fluid made up of water, electrolytes, and salts. Dialysate helps in cleaning up the blood by pulling out the waste products that are in it. How does this work? Through the process of diffusion. A renal patient’s blood contains a high concentration of toxins, while dialysate contains a low concentration of toxins. Because of this difference, diffusion takes place wherein waste and excess fluids move from the blood across into the dialysate, creating an equal amount on both fluids.
  7. The used dialysate (now containing waste products removed from the blood) is pumped out of the machine and discarded. While the blood goes through another arterial pressure monitor and air trap to ensure that it’s safe to return into the patient’s body.
  8. The clean blood now returns to the body through the second vascular access.

How long does a kidney dialysis session last?

This varies for each patient. Your renal healthcare provider will give you advice about how long you should be on each hemodialysis. To give you an idea, a typical session is around 4 hours. We always recommend using this time to do some light work or just enjoy some leisurely time with yourself.

What to know more about dialysis treatments?

Do you or you know someone who needs to undergo dialysis treatment? We encourage you to talk to us and know more about it! Our healthcare professionals will be more than glad to answer all your enquiries and assist you in this process of getting better. Feel free to give us a call at +65 6397 3360 or send us your questions through our enquiry form.

For immediate information to some frequently searched topics, you may browse through our Patient Education section today or through our blog!

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