Dialysis is a mechanical process that performs the work of healthy
kidneys. Hemodialysis uses a man-made membrane (dialyzer) to remove wastes and
extra fluid from the blood. It also restores the proper balance of certain
minerals in the blood (electrolytes). The fluid used to filter or clean the
blood is called dialysate.
Hemodialysis is usually done in a hospital or
Before dialysis can begin, the doctor has to create a dialysis
access. In hemodialysis, the access is the place where the dialysis needles are
inserted, to carry the blood to and from the dialysis machine. For the best
access, the doctor builds a connection, called a fistula, between an artery and
a vein in the forearm. Or the doctor uses a tube called a graft to connect the
artery and a vein. Sometimes a plastic tube (central venous catheter) is placed
in the neck.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerTushar J. Vachharajani, MD, FASN, FACP - Nephrology