In hemodialysis, a machine circulates blood through an artificial kidney. The machine precisely mixes purified water, bicarbonate and acid based on the physician’s prescription and sends it to the artificial kidney. Monitors are constantly evaluating your dialysis treatment and will alarm if any condition is out of range ensuring your safety. SKI’s machines can monitor the fluid loss goal, concentrate mix and modeling for bicarb, sodium, temperature and heparin.
The artificial kidney is commonly called a dialyzer. It’s a hard plastic cylinder that contains thousands of very slender hollow fibers. These fibers are about the thickness of a human hair. As the blood passes through these fibers, microscopic pores in the fiber walls allow substances (fluid, toxins and wastes) to pass out of the blood. On the outside of the fibers, the solution made by the dialysis machine passes in the opposite direction and carries away the unwanted substances.
Reusing the Artificial Kidney
Dialyzer reuse, a common practice in dialysis, can reduce or eliminate the physical reaction some patients have to certain dialyzers. When this is done, a patient’s own dialyzer is prepared for their next treatment by removing any blood, testing to make sure it works adequately and then sterilizing.
During dialysis, purified water is mixed with dialysate (a solution that helps remove toxins from the body) and filtered through the artificial kidney. A dialysis facility must purify hundreds of gallons of water a day to ensure patients are not exposed to chemicals that could harm the body. A typical patient treatment requires 40 – 50 gallons of water. The purification process includes:
- A water softener to remove hard water
- Carbon filters to remove chlorine and organic material
- Sediment filters to remove particles
- A reverse osmosis unit to remove other chemicals
This process produces the most pure water available helping to ensure a high quality treatment.
Dialysis Access Monitoring
A dialysis access (vascular access) is a pathway to a your bloodstream that allows dialysis to occur. Many dialysis providers periodically test how well a dialysis access is working. Tests are performed during the treatment to monitor the blood flow and detect signs of clotting. If the access performs poorly, the dialysis treatments are not as effective and impact your well-being.