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The Difference Between Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis
Kidney disease is a very serious ailment that affects 30 million adults in the US, with millions more at risk. It inevitably becomes fatal if left untreated. The most effective way to treat kidney failure is through dialysis, of which there are two types -- hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. In order to understand these two processes better, it's important to first thoroughly understand what the kidneys do and why they are significant.
So, What DO Kidneys Do?
Your kidneys are crucial to filtering waste and harmful substances out of the bloodstream. They absorb essential vitamins and nutrients, expelling everything else out of the body in the form of urine. Kidneys also regulate your body's hydration levels and assist in hormone production. If your kidneys fail, they allow harmful elements into the bloodstream, leading to various complications with the central nervous system, diabetes, heart problems and more. You can read further on the subject here.
Kidney dialysis is the most effective way to treat kidney disease. It's a process that allows artificial regulation of hydration, hormone production and waste filtration. Essentially the process conducts the kidneys' duties. Treatment is administered on average for about 4 hours, 3 times per week. Frequency depends on the severity of the disease and the patient. There are two types of kidney dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
What is Hemodialysis?
Hemodialysis is a process that cleans the blood via an external artificial kidney -- a machine called a dialyzer. The doctor will create an exit and entry point for the blood, normally done by arm surgery. The blood is drawn out of the body, through IV tubes that send it into the dialyzer, which filters out the waste and retains essential nutrients. It then begins pumping the newly cleaned blood back into the body.
This process is done either in a hospital, dialysis center or, depending on the severity of the disease and the patient's personal situation, at home. Treatment normally takes place for around 4 hours for 3 times a week, sometimes more frequently if done at home. If the kidney disease is caught early enough, hemodialysis may not be needed for the long-term. As long as the patient maintains a strict and healthy diet, as instructed by the doctor, the kidneys may heal over time and the patient will see restored functionality. However, if the disease is progressed to severe levels, which is often the case, hemodialysis will be administered for the rest of the patient's life unless they receive a kidney transplant.
Peritoneal dialysis shares the same basic principles as hemodialysis -- to do the jobs that the kidneys no longer can -- albeit in a different manner. The first type of peritoneal dialysis is called Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD). It's machineless, so there's no need to visit a dialysis center or hospital 3 times a week. Instead, the filtration system is within the body. A special cleansing fluid is administered via IV into the abdomen, left for several hours to clean the blood, and then later drained. The administration and draining process take around 30 minutes each and is done around 3-5 times a day. During this time, the patient can carry on about their normal day.
A second type of peritoneal dialysis, called Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD), is the same as CAPD, though rather than manually administering and draining the cleansing fluid from the body, a machine does it (hence the term "automated"). It is often done at night while the patient sleeps.
While there are different types of dialysis, there are many factors that play a role in which will be administered. These factors often include the patient's lifestyle, line of work, disease severity, and personal preferences. Your kidney specialist will explain more in-depth the pros and cons of each type of dialysis to find what's best for you. That being said, catching the kidney disease early enough and avoiding treatment altogether is much more convenient. So if you or a loved one suffer from, or are at risk for kidney disease, please contact us for an examination.