Clinical Activities and Procedures

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What is hemodialysis?

In healthy animals chemical and fluid balance is maintained and metabolic waste products are removed from the bloodstream by the kidneys. Animals with diseased kidneys cannot perform these functions such that body composition is altered and wastes accumulate as toxins, contributing to a syndrome termed uremia. Dialysis is the process whereby dissolved substances diffuse across a membrane from a solution of higher concentration to a solution of lower concentration. Hemodialysis is an advanced therapeutic application of these principles of diffusion which is performed on uremic animals to remove the accumulated toxins from the patient's blood (where they are present in high concentration) and establish normal body fluid composition. During hemodialysis the patient's blood is circulated repeatedly through an artificial kidney composed of many tiny 'straws'. These straws are the semi-permeable membranes that allow toxic wastes to diffuse out of the blood, but keep proteins and cells within the bloodstream. As the blood circulates, metabolic wastes and excess fluid are removed from the blood and discarded.

Applications of Hemodialysis Hemodialysis provides a new standard of care for a variety of diseases and clinical conditions for which there are no effective medical alternatives, including:

  • Severe acute or chronic renal failure
  • Acute poisoning
  • Severe over hydration
  • Severe electrolyte derangements
  • Severe acid-base disturbances
  • Conditioning for kidney transplantation