When your organs fail, modern technology steps in to perform their jobs and save your life.
Among these life-saving machines, one of the most widely used and most effective is dialysis, a treatment that does the job of your kidneys when yours have failed.
There are several reasons dialysis may become necessary. Here’s a look at what dialysis does, how to get an access port, and who needs it.
Your kidneys and dialysis
The main purpose of your kidneys is to filter the waste out of your blood and regulate the level of water and minerals in it.
In the average adult, the kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood every day. If your kidneys stop working, the waste in your blood builds to toxic levels and can lead to a coma and eventually death.
Your kidneys also keep your blood pressure under control, produce vitamin D to promote bone health, aid the production of red blood cells, and regulate the pH levels in your body.
If your kidneys fail, dialysis provides a way to remove the blood from your body, filter out the waste, and return the blood to your body. To enable this treatment, we create a dialysis access port that allows blood to exit your veins and arteries through a tube connected to the hemodialysis machine.
Everyone who needs dialysis needs a dialysis access port.
Who needs dialysis?
If your kidneys are failing — meaning they’ve lost about 85-90% of their function — you’re a potential candidate for dialysis. Your kidneys might fail because of acute injuries or chronic kidney disease.
Acute injuries to your kidneys can occur if you:
- Are involved in a traumatic accident
- Have a heart attack
- Suffer a severe urinary tract infection
- Use/abuse illegal drugs
Under these circumstances, you might need temporary dialysis to assist your kidneys until your health issue is resolved.
Chronic kidney disease can stem from other health problems that damage your kidneys, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Lupus or other autoimmune diseases
- Genetic diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease
About 37 million Americans have chronic kidney disease — that’s 1 in 7. Unfortunately, there aren’t any symptoms to alert you in the early stages, so you may have it without knowing it. Once it advances, it leads to end-stage kidney disease, at which point you either need a kidney transplant or lifetime dialysis.
Types of dialysis
There are two main types of dialysis — hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
Hemodialysis uses a dialysis access in your arm or neck to run your blood through an external artificial kidney. The process takes 3-5 hours about three times a week.
Hemodialysis can be performed in a hospital, at a dialysis center, or, if you or your caregiver are capable, in your home.
Using an access port in your abdomen, peritoneal dialysis makes use of the small blood vessels in your abdominal cavity to help filter your blood. A dialysis solution is injected into the peritoneal space, where it stays for several hours to absorb waste, then it’s drained.
One type is called continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis. It takes a bit longer than hemodialysis to complete a cycle, but it’s incredibly convenient and easy to do at home or while traveling, because it requires no machines.
A variation, called continuous cyclic peritoneal dialysis, requires a machine to cycle the solution in and out of your body at night while you sleep.
Taking care of your dialysis access port
Whichever type of dialysis you need, you must take good care of your access port. As the ones who created your dialysis access, there’s no one better to help you maintain it than our team.
We’re available for regular maintenance visits in our state-of-the-art facilities located in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan and in Pomona, Goshen, and Fishkill, New York, and Englewood, New Jersey.
We check to make sure the access is working properly and adjust and repair it as necessary on an outpatient basis.
If you need dialysis access, schedule an appointment today.