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Dialysis

In medicine dialysis is a process for removing waste and excess water from the blood, and is used primarily as an artificial replacement for lost kidney function in people with renal failure. Dialysis may be used for those with an acute disturbance in kidney function (acute kidney injury/ acute renal failure), or progressive but chronically worsening kidney function–a state known as chronic kidney disease stage 5 (chronic renal failure or end-stage renal disease). The latter form may develop over months or years, but in contrast to acute kidney injury is not usually reversible, and dialysis is regarded as a "holding measure" until a renal transplant can be performed, or sometimes as the only supportive measure in those for whom a transplant would be inappropriate.

The kidneys have important roles in maintaining health. When healthy, the kidneys maintain the body's internal equilibrium of water and minerals (sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfate). The acidic metabolism end-products that the body cannot get rid of via respiration are also excreted through the kidneys.

What does dialysis do?

When your kidneys fail, dialysis keeps your body in balance by:

  • removing waste, salt and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body
  • keeping a safe level of certain chemicals in your blood, such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonate
  • helping to control blood pressure