Dialysis: Procedure, Types, Risks, and Purpose

Like most of our organs, our kidneys play an important role in the overall functioning of our body. These two bean-shaped organs sit directly below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. Their primary job is to remove waste and fluid from the body, says WebMD, but they also maintain blood pressure and mineral levels, keep our bones strong, and help make red blood cells.

A healthy set of kidneys will be able to do all of this for our body, however, people with failing or damaged kidneys might have difficulty eliminating waste from the body or unwanted water from the blood. This is where dialysis comes in.

According to Medical News Today, about 14-percent of the U.S. population has chronic kidney disease (CKD) which means they’ll likely need dialysis. For these people, here’s a look at everything to know about dialysis, including the procedure, types, risks, and overall purpose…

What is Dialysis?

The kidneys perform the important task of cleaning our blood and removing waste and excess fluid from the body. In a healthy person, the kidneys filter around 120 to 150-quarts of blood every day and send excess waste to the bladder so that it can exit the body through our urine, says Healthline. Dialysis is a treatment that uses a machine to mimic the kidney’s job of purifying the blood and keeping the body’s electrolytes in balance.

However, it’s important to note that while dialysis is helpful, it can in no way compare to what the kidneys were able to do when they were healthy, says the American Kidney Fund. A healthy, functioning pair of kidneys are able to remove fluid and waste around the clock, whereas dialysis can only do about 10 to 15-percent of that.

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Dr. Gerald Morris

Dr. Gerald Morris

Gerald Morris, MD is a family medicine/internal medicine physician with over 20 years expertise in the medical arena. Dr. Morris has spent time as a clinician, clinical research coordinator/manager, medical writer, and instructor. He is a proponent of patient education as a tool in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic medical conditions.