Skip to main content

Renal replacement therapy - what is dialysis?

Silvana Tenini

Silvana Tenini

June 12, 2023

reading time

4 min

Dialysis is a medical procedure that removes harmful substances from the blood. Silvana Tenini, Head of Dialysis, answers interesting questions about the most common renal replacement procedures, when they are used and how they work.

What is dialysis?

The word dialysis comes from the Greek and means "separation" or "detachment". Dialysis is a medical procedure in which the function of the kidney is partially or completely taken over. It is used for acute or chronic disorders of kidney function.

A healthy kidney excretes waste products, toxins and excess water. In the case of kidney disease, dialysis replaces these functions.

When is dialysis carried out?

If kidney function is less than 15 per cent in the long term and symptoms such as reduced performance, nausea or vomiting, weight loss and derailed blood pressure are evident, then dialysis therapy should be started.

What types of dialysis are there?

There are basically two different types of dialysis: haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

Haemodialysis, also known as "blood washing", is carried out in a dialysis centre using a dialysis machine. In this procedure, the patient's blood is pumped through a dialysis filter and thus "washed" outside the body. The purified blood then flows back into the body. The patient must be connected to a dialysis machine for several hours three times a week. The blood circulates through the filter several times during each session. In addition to cleansing the blood, fluid is also removed.

In peritoneal dialysis, blood washing takes place in the abdominal cavity. The body's own peritoneum is used as a natural filter organ. Fluid is introduced into the abdominal cavity through a catheter. This remains in the abdominal cavity for a few hours and is then replaced by a new fluid. In peritoneal dialysis, fluid is therefore constantly present in the abdominal cavity.

Patients usually carry out peritoneal dialysis independently and at home. Each patient normally decides for themselves which procedure is suitable.

How long does a dialysis procedure usually take? How often does dialysis have to be carried out?

Haemodialysis usually lasts between four and five hours and takes place three times a week.

In the case of peritoneal dialysis, a bag change is carried out five times a day. The patient needs around 20 minutes per bag change. The time the fluid remains in the abdominal cavity varies between three to six hours during the day and up to ten hours at night.

Portrait photo of Silvana Tenini

Silvana Tenini

Ward manager dialysis centre

Share post

Weitere Beiträge