This article will introduce the three kidney treatment options that are available to patients who suffer kidney failure.
Kidney transplant is a procedure to place a healthy kidney from another person into your body. This new kidney then does the work that your two failed kidneys cannot do anymore.
The new kidney inside your body is usually placed above your groin in the belly connecting the artery and vein of the new kidney to your arteries and veins, and the ureter is connected to your bladder. Your blood flows through the new kidney which produces urine. The new kidney usually starts working right away but sometimes urine production may start slowly… Your kidneys are left where they are unless they are causing infection or high blood pressure.
You may receive a kidney from a member of your family. This kind of donor is called a living-related donor. You may receive a kidney from a person who has recently died. This type of donor is called a cadaver donor. Sometimes a spouse or very close friend may donate a kidney. This kind of donor is called a living-unrelated donor. It is very important for the donor’s blood and tissues to closely match yours. This match will help prevent your body’s immune system from fighting off or rejecting the new kidney. A lab will perform special tests on blood cells to find out if your body will accept the new kidney.
The surgery takes from 3 to 6 hours. The usual hospital stay may last from 10 to 14 days. After you leave the hospital, you will go to the clinic for regular follow-up visits. To avoid rejection, you are required to always take immunosuppressants. While these drugs are mandatory to keep your new kidney healthy, they also weaken your immune system, so you have to be careful to avoid infections.
Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is another procedure to replace the work of your kidneys. It removes extra water, wastes, and chemicals from your body. This type of dialysis uses the peritoneum, the inner layer of your belly to filter your blood.
A cleansing solution, called dialysate, travels through a special catheter into your belly. Fluid, wastes, and chemicals pass from tiny blood vessels in the peritoneal membrane into the dialysate. After several hours of the prescribed dwell time, the dialysate gets drained from your abdomen, taking the wastes from your blood with it. Then you fill your belly with fresh dialysate and the cleaning process begins again.
Before your first treatment, a surgeon places a small, soft tube called a peritoneal catheter into your abdomen. This catheter always stays there and is safely covered. It helps to transport the dialysate to and from your peritoneal membrane.
There are two main types of this PD process of filling and draining:
- CAPD (Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis), manually during the day.
- APD (Automated Peritoneal Dialysis), automatically at night with a cycler.
Hemodialysis (HD) is a procedure to filter and clean your blood. It eliminates harmful wastes and excess salt and fluids from the body.
HD uses a special filter, a dialyzer, with a semipermeable membrane to clean the blood. During treatment, the blood circulates through tubing systems pumped by a machine through the dialyzer. The dialyzer filters out the waste and extra fluids. Then, the cleaned blood is returned to your body continuously.
Hemodialysis requires access to the bloodstream to accommodate the high blood flow during dialysis. The access provides a way for blood to be carried from your body to the dialysis machine and then back into your body. The three main types of vascular access for HD are the AV fistula, vascular access graft or central venous catheter.
HD can be done at home or at a dialysis center. At a center, nurses or trained technicians perform the treatment. At home, you perform hemodialysis with the help of your partner. If you decide to do home dialysis, you and your partner will receive special training.
Hemodialysis is usually performed three times a week. Each treatment lasts from 3.5 to 5 hours. During treatment, you can read, write, sleep, talk, or watch TV.