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Renal Dialysis: What It Means, It’s Function And Uses

Apr 03, 2017

Renal Dialysis: What It Means, It’s Function And Uses

Dialysis comes from the Greek words dià, meaning through and lỳsis, meaning loosening or splitting so diàlysis, means dissolution. It is a process of removing waste and excess water from the blood and is an artificial replacement for people with acute or chronic kidney disease in whom the kidney function is lost.

Dialysis works on the principles of the diffusion, osmosis and ultrafiltration. Diffusion is a process in which substances move from their area of high concentration to low concentration.  Osmosis is movement of water molecules from their area of higher concentration to lower concentration through semi permeable membrane which is thin layered membrane containing holes or pores. Blood flows through one side of a semi-permeable membrane, and special dialysis fluid called dialysate, flows through the other side. Smaller solutes particles and fluids including water pass through the membrane, but the membrane blocks the passage of larger substances like proteins, red blood cells, etc. This same filtering process replicates in the glomerulus of kidneys and is known as ultra filtration and blood is purified of excess water and waste substances.

There are two main types of dialysis, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. In hemodialysis, blood containing water and wastes are circulated outside the body through an artificial filter called dialyzer which has a semi permeable membrane. The blood and dialysate flows in opposite direction across the membrane and blood is purified of urea/creatininine and other undesirable solutes. The concentration of dialysate is so maintained, that the essential minerals are not filtered out of the body.

In peritoneal dialysis, wastes and water are removed from the blood inside the body using the peritoneum in abdominal cavity which acts as a natural semi permeable membrane.

A new device called wearable artificial kidney has recently been tested on 7 patients at the University Of Washington Medical Center by Dr. Victor Gura of Cedars. The battery powered 10-pound device can be worn around the waist has the potential to replace all the complex machinery associated with dialysis. It has passed the first FDA-approved proof-of-concept trial.

Disclaimer: The information given in this write-up is purely for educating the reader. It is not meant to be a substitute for any advice from a medical expert.

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