What Is Dialysis for?

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Dialysis involves the use of an artificial kidney or dialysate fluid as a substitution for the natural function of the kidneys in cases where the kidneys are not able to perform as usual.

History

Doctors performed the first kidney dialysis during the 1940s and it became a regularly used treatment during the 1960s.

Significance

When kidneys function at only 10 percent of their usual capacity, kidney dialysis is required. The National Kidney and Urologic Disease Clearinghouse reports that 354,754 Americans received dialysis in 2006.

Chronic Kidney Failure

Diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, kidney blockages or exposure to certain toxins result may result in chronic kidney failure, where the decreased function of the kidneys is permanent. In such instances, dialysis is required for the duration of the patient’s life.

Acute Kidney Failure

Infections and kidney stones sometimes result in acute kidney failure, a temporary malfunction of the kidneys. When acute kidney failure is severe, dialysis is used until the underlying cause of the failure is cured.

Effects

Kidney dialysis removes excess fluid, toxins and elements like sodium, potassium and bicarbonate from the body. The kidneys usually perform this function when they are working properly.

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