The kidneys are vital organs within the body that are essential for sustaining life with their primary functions being to remove the waste products from our blood and excess fluids from our body, regulate our blood pressure, and produce certain hormones that are essential to our body for healthy blood and bones.
Unfortunately, for various reasons an individual can experience kidney failure that is a life threatening condition requiring medical treatment. Medical treatment for kidney failure consists of three options that can be chosen based upon a physician’s recommendation and the patient’s preference.
Treatment for kidney failure is optional and the patient has the right to refuse treatment which they may do for various reasons including their desire to not being burdened with the process of dialysis that may only prolong their suffering.
Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis
Hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis are forms of dialysis treatment that replace the function of the failing kidneys by basically filtering the waste products from the blood. The basic difference between hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis is that hemodialysis utilizes a machine – artificial kidney – to filter the blood while peritoneal dialysis utilizes the body’s own peritoneal membrane that is located in the abdomen.
In hemodialysis, the blood is removed from the body and pumped into a dialyzer that filters the blood and returns it back into the patient’s body. In peritoneal dialysis, a dialysate solution is infused into the abdominal cavity and waste products along with excess fluids will accumulate within the dialysate solution which is drained and then replaced periodically.
The decision as to what method is chosen is based upon many factors including the medical conditions and lifestyle of the individual. Hemodialysis is typically done at a dialysis facility outside of a hospital while peritoneal dialysis can be done at home.
Complications can occur with both procedures with the most common problem associated with hemodialysis being vascular access problems, and the most common problem associated with peritoneal dialysis being serious abdominal infection.
In certain situations where the kidneys have failed, the recommendation may be made for a kidney transplant in those patients who are considered to be a good candidate for kidney transplantation. If a live donor is not available such as a family member or friend who is a good match, the patient will be placed on a waiting list until a matching organ donor is found.
While this form of treatment is effective in most cases, the individual will have to take immunosuppressant medications for life to prevent their body from rejecting the new kidney. In some patients, kidney transplantation may not be considered if other medical conditions would cause the surgery to be extremely dangerous or is unlikely to be successful.
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