Renal therapy is a process that is used when kidney disease is present. The exact form of therapy used depends on the general health of the patient and the degree of kidney failure that is present. Currently, there are four different types of therapy that are used to treat renal disease: hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, hemofiltration, and renal transplantation.
Hemodialysis is probably the best known of all types of renal therapy. This form of kidney dialysis involves the removal of waste products from the blood, since a patient in with renal failure can no longer manage this process naturally. Renal dialysis of this kind can be administered at a hospital or clinic, or conducted at home, depending on the general condition of the patient. Nurses and technicians assist with the process when it is conducted in a medical care facility, while home health personnel or family members may assist in the process of hemodialysis when it is done at home.
Peritoneal dialysis or PD involves the injection of a specially formulated dialysis fluid into the abdomen of the patient. This form of renal therapy allows the fluid to penetrate throughout the peritoneum and cause excess water and waste products to separate from the blood and be absorbed into the fluid. On a recurring basis, the saturated fluid is extracted and replaced with new dialysis fluid.
Hemofiltration is a renal therapy that functions much like hemodialysis. However, this type of renal therapy is usually employed only when acute renal failure is present. The process is ongoing and may take place around the clock. The patient’s blood is slowly moved out of the body, using tubing to run the blood through a filter. The filtered blood is infused with dialysis fluid and then returned to the body through a second set of tubing. During hemofiltration, patients are monitored closely for any adverse reactions, and to make sure the filtration process proceeds at a safe pace.
The last approach to renal replacement therapy is the renal transplantation, commonly known as a kidney transplant. In order for this kind of renal therapy to be effective, the donor and the recipient must be as genetically compatible as possible. Often, a close relative can donate a healthy kidney for the transplant. However, kidneys harvested from cadavers may also prove to be compatible. Patients who are considered to have end-stage renal failure are most commonly the recipients of the transplants.
The ultimate goal of any renal therapy is to provide the patient with the best quality of life possible, given the circumstances. However, patients sometimes find therapy of this type to be painful, especially is the care is necessary over an extended period of time. For this reason, some people choose to stop the therapy and focus on enjoying whatever amount of time they have left to live.