Hemodialysis is a medical treatment that removes excess waste, salt, and fluid from the blood of a person whose kidneys are no longer functioning properly. It works by using a machine that pumps the person’s blood through an artificial kidney, or dialyzer, which contains a semipermeable membrane that filters the blood. The waste products and excess fluid pass through the membrane and into a dialysis solution, while the cleaned blood is returned to the person’s body. The process usually takes three to four hours and is typically performed three times a week.
In hemodialysis, a special type of needle called a dialysis catheter or an arteriovenous (AV) fistula is surgically created in the person’s arm to access the blood. The blood is then pumped through a dialysis machine, which contains a dialyzer, a pump, and a monitor to track vital signs and fluid balance. During the treatment, the person’s blood is slowly circulated through the dialyzer, where the waste products and excess fluid are filtered out and removed from the body. The cleaned blood is then returned to the person’s body. The entire process is monitored by a trained healthcare professional and may involve adjusting the flow of blood or the concentration of dialysis solution as needed. Hemodialysis is a lifesaving treatment for people with end-stage renal disease, but it can also be physically and emotionally demanding.