How Does Dialysis Treat Kidney Failure

Posted On Dec 24, 2019

Department of Nephrology

Manipal Hospitals

Kidneys help to filter the waste, excess fluid, and toxins from your blood. They also promote blood cell production and bone health. If there is no proper functioning of the kidneys, the harmful substances build up in the body and cause many problems. If there is too much accumulation of fluid in the tissue, it leads to swellings known as edema. It is a primary symptom of kidney disease or failure. More than 2 million patients are estimated to be suffering from end-stage renal disease and are in need of treatment **. Kidney diseases and failures can be treated with dialysis.


Dialysis is a treatment procedure that filters and purifies the blood using a machine. It helps to keep your body in balance when the kidneys can’t do their job. It can be an inpatient or outpatient therapy.

There are mainly two types of dialysis which include:

Hemodialysis: In this type of dialysis, an artificial kidney is used to remove wastes, extra chemicals, and fluid from your blood. This procedure is performed by minor surgery to your arm or leg. Your doctor forms an entry into the blood vessels of your arm or leg in order to connect the filtering machine. Then the blood flows from the blood vessels into the filter present in the machine. This filter can remove wastes and toxins from the blood. Usually, this procedure lasts for three to five hours.

Peritoneal dialysis: In this type of dialysis, the blood is cleaned inside your body. During treatment, your abdominal area is filled with the dialysate through a catheter. Once the dialysate draws the waste fluids from the bloodstream, it is drained from your abdomen.

Dialysis is required for the people with end-stage kidney disease or permanent kidney failure. It is required if you have lost about 85 to 90 % of your kidney function, but in a few cases, temporary dialysis is also required. The number of dialysis treatments depends on your kidneys function, wastes collected during the last dialysis, and your weight.


It is a general term for any damage that reduces the functioning of the kidney. It may be acute or chronic kidney disease.

Acute kidney disease occurs when your kidneys suddenly lose the ability to eliminate waste fluids from the body. The three main causes for acute kidney disease include:

  • Lack of blood flow to the kidneys
  • Direct damage to the kidneys
  • Urine backed up in the kidneys

If your kidney does not work for longer than three months, then it is termed as chronic kidney disease. It can be a life-threatening condition. Diabetes, immune system disease, congenital defects, prolonged use of certain medications such as NSAIDs and toxins can cause chronic kidney disease.

The symptoms of kidney disease are:

  • Changes in urination
  • Edema
  • Fatigue
  • Skin rash/itching
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Metallic taste in mouth
  • Leg/flank pain


When your kidneys lose the ability to filter the waste products from your blood, it leads to kidney failure.

Loss of blood flow to the kidneys, heart disease, dehydration, severe burns, and sepsis can cause kidney failure.

Symptoms of kidney failure include:

  • Swelling of the legs
  • Decreased urine output
  • Seizures
  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in your chest
  • Confusion


Like any other therapy, dialysis is also associated with certain risks.

The risks associated with hemodialysis include:
  • Low blood pressure
  • Anemia
  • Muscle cramping
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Depression
Risks associated with peritoneal dialysis include:

Kidney disorders are not permanent. Dialysis can serve the same function as the kidneys until they repair and begin to work. You must go for dialysis on a permanent basis until you have chronic kidney disease or kidney failure.





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