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What is Chronic Hemodialysis?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
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Hemodialysis is a medical procedure that is performed once the kidneys begin to fail. Chronic hemodialysis means that this procedure must be performed on an ongoing basis. With chronic hemodialysis, the patient is connected to a machine that removes the blood from the body in order to filter out the toxins before returning the cleaned blood to the body. This procedure can take several hours at a time and is often done several times per week.

There are several potential reasons the kidneys could fail, making chronic hemodialysis a necessity in order to save the life of the patient. Kidney diseases such as polycystic kidney disease often progress to the point where dialysis treatments become necessary. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can also lead to kidney failure. Poisons as well as some drugs are also known to have a negative impact on kidney function.

Without proper kidney function, the body is not able to filter the toxins, or dangerous waste materials, from the body. After a while, the toxins build up in the various cells and tissues of the body, causing a medical condition known as uremia. This condition causes excess fluid in the tissues of the body as well as anemia and electrolyte imbalances. Without treatment, this condition can be potentially fatal. Dialysis such as chronic hemodialysis or kidney transplant is the basic treatments for uremia.

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Preparations need to be made before dialysis treatments begin, often several weeks or months in advance. An access point for the needles used in the chronic hemodialysis treatments is necessary. This access point is important because, without it, blood vessels can become damaged from the constant insertion of needles. This is especially true because the needles used for this treatment tend to be quite large.

There are several options as far as access point go. The most preferred method is the arteriovenous fistula. This access point requires a surgical procedure in which an artery and vein are connected to one another. This allows the vein to become stronger and larger, allowing for easier needle insertion. This method is preferred because it tends to last longer than other methods of vascular access, and there is also less infection risk than with other options.

If the AV fistula is not a viable option, a graft may be done instead. In this procedure, a path is created between the artery and vein using a synthetic tube. In some situations, a temporary catheter may be placed in one of the larger veins, such as in the groin or neck. This catheter can be used as an access point until another type can be used.

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