Kidney Dialysis

Kumud P Mehta
Consultant Pediatrician & Pediatric Nephrologist, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for children, Mumbai, India
First Created: 01/25/2006 


Dialysis is a procedure used to remove endogenous toxic metabolites as in uremia/renal failure, inborn errors of metabolism (with an accumulation of organic acids) across a semipermeable membrane. It is also useful in removing exogenous poisons like ethanol, aspirin, barbiturates, and boric acid from the blood in cases of poisoning.


Hemodialysis is a method of dialysis where vascular access is used along with an artificial semipermeable membrane pack in a dialyzer and controlled by a dialysis machine, so that transfer of solutes and fluid from the blood to the dialysate fluid takes place in a controlled manner, by extracorporeal perfusion. (Fig. of a dialyzer)


Components for hemodialysis

For hemodialysis, 3 components are required:
Vascular access: arteriovenous connection


a disposable equipment, which holds a bundle of semipermeable membranes either polymerized or made of cellulose acetate coprophage. The size of the dialyzer varies according to the surface area of the patient. For children, pediatric size dialyzers should be used. One end of the dialyzer is connected to the arterial end and the other end to the venous side of vascular access and the access for dialysate fluid. The semipermeable membrane separates the blood compartment and dialysate compartment and allows the transfer of a solute from blood to the dialysate, which is drained out after dialysis is completed. The programmed removal of nitrogenous waste products, excess potassium, sodium, and water is controlled by a computerized dialysis machine.

Dialysis machine

It controls the flow of blood, dialysate fluid (which is prepared by adding water to the purified concentrate), and the amount of water, sodium, and other noxious substances which need to be removed during 3-4 hours of dialysis. Advances in bioengineering and technical aspects of dialysis machines have made hemodialysis a safe and effective procedure.

Indications of hemodialysis are acute renal failure or poisoning, chronic renal failure/end-stage renal disease and rarely inborn errors of metabolism, cardiac failure. Chronic maintenance hemodialysis (CMHD) is given 3 times a week. Each session of dialysis is for 3-4 hours.

Types of arteriovenous connections

A-V Shunt

: Surgically, a silastic catheter is placed which connects radial artery to cephalic vein or femoral artery to femoral vein. The arterial and venous ends of the shunt are connected to arterial and venous ends of the dialyzer when dialysis is to be commenced. This type of vascular access is rarely used because of the high rate of blocking of the shunt.

A-V fistula

: The radial artery is surgically anastomosed to cephalic vein in forearm. Ulnar-Basilic or saphenous vein loop are other fistulae used for hemodialysis. Two needles are introduced once the fistula matures and is functionally ready to connect the dialyzer to the fistula. In this method of vascular access, no foreign material is used.

A-V graft

: Teflon/PTFE graft is used to connect arterial to venous or venovenous anastomosis. The major problem in young children is the small-sized vessels, which are responsible for the failure of vascular access. This graft is expensive and not available in India.

Currently, dual lumen venous catheters, which can be introduced in the subclavian, jugular, or femoral veins are commonly used as vascular access for hemodialysis.

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is the type of dialysis when the peritoneal membrane is used as a semipermeable membrane for the transfer of solutes and fluid from the blood to the dialysate fluid which is infused by special peritoneal dialysis catheters and tubes and periodically removed after the dialysis procedure is completed.


Peritoneal dialysis is used as a renal replacement therapy acutely in acute renal failure, poisonings (though hemodialysis is more efficient). Intermittently or long term PD is used for chronic renal failure/ESRD. The indications of PD are almost the same as HD.

PD procedure

PD procedure involves the introduction of a PD catheter in the peritoneal cavity using a trocar or placement of tench off catheter surgically in the peritoneum (permanent access) when chronic PD is indicated. The catheter is attached to tubings and special bags containing dialysate fluid which infuses special PD fluid into the peritoneal cavity (inflow) for ½ hr for acute cases and for a longer time in CAPD. The transfer of solutes takes place and after opening the clamps, the dialysate fluid is discarded in a bag (outflow). Such 20-24 cycles of PD can be given over 24-48 hours for acute PD.

Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD)

For chronic PD, the procedure is almost the same but intermittent introduction of a catheter being difficult, permanent access using tench off catheter is made. The dialysate fluid is infused and allowed to remain in the peritoneal cavity for 4-6 hours after which it is drained in the empty bags. Three to four exchanges per day of PD are done by the relatives of the child or the patient himself/herself after a training period of 2-3 weeks. Thus, the patient is ambulatory and can attend school and carry out normal activities. Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis is physiological and can be managed at home. The growth, control of anemia, hypertension, etc is better with CAPD than chronic HD and convenient for the family.

Monitoring on PD

The patients on chronic dialysis require continuous treatment to remove accumulated nitrogenous toxic metabolites every 48-72 hours because of the failure of the kidneys to perform these functions. Every 30-40 days, renal parameters in blood need to be monitored. B.P, Hb% are done every month. Fluid intake and diet need to be checked by the dietician strictly. Height should be monitored 3 monthly. During the dialysis procedure - Pulse, temperature, BP, problems such as hypotension, volume overload, infection, fluid and electrolyte imbalance, seizures, and CNS problems are monitored by expert nursing staff specially trained for dialysis and supervised by nephrologists.

Peritoneal Dialysis or Hemodialysis

The decision regarding whether PD or HD should be done depends on the age of the child, whether the indication is for acute or chronic dialysis, socioeconomic state, and expertise available in the hospital.

In small infants and children, vascular access is difficult, hence PD is preferred. Because the procedure is simple, quick, the equipment and fluid are easily available; peritoneal dialysis is preferred for acute renal failure.

For chronic dialysis in India, hemodialysis is preferred because the cost of bags containing PD fluid is very high. Although worldwide, CAPD is gaining popularity for ESRD in children because of home-based dialysis, freedom to pursue studies, play, activity, less number of needle pricks, no visits to hospitals, etc.

When to Do Renal Transplant?

Renal transplant is the preferred treatment for patients with ESRD and a healthy kidney from a compatible donor is the final solution to the problem of ESRD who is on dialysis. In children, renal transplantation without dialysis or after a short period of dialysis to stabilize the child while preparing for transplant is the best treatment (pre -empirical renal transplant) to achieve normal growth.

Kidney Dialysis - Prognosis

The prognosis of a patient on dialysis is good. In acute renal failure, dialysis is life-saving and complete recovery is possible. For chronic renal failure/ESRD dialysis can maintain a fairly good quality of life, but the restriction of activity and continuous or intermittent medical check-ups, hospitalization interrupts daily life.


Complications of hemodialysis are inadequate dialysis which results in malnutrition, growth failure, anemia, bone disease, hypertension. All of these require medical treatment. Blockage, bleeding and infection of vascular access are additional complications.

Major complications of PD are peritonitis and infection of exit site and tunnel infection. The blockage of catheter, leakage, and bleeding are some of the complications requiring immediate attention.

Kidney Dialysis Kidney Dialysis 2006-01-25
Disclaimer: The information given by is provided by medical and paramedical & Health providers voluntarily for display & is meant only for informational purpose. The site does not guarantee the accuracy or authenticity of the information. Use of any information is solely at the user's own risk. The appearance of advertisement or product information in the various section in the website does not constitute an endorsement or approval by Pediatric Oncall of the quality or value of the said product or of claims made by its manufacturer.
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0