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Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What do I need to know about hemodialysis?

Hemodialysis is a procedure that uses a machine to do the job of your kidneys. The machine pumps your blood through a dialyzer, or artificial kidney. The dialyzer filters fluid, salts, and waste from your blood. Once they are removed, clean blood from the dialyzer returns to your body through a vein. You may need hemodialysis short-term or for the rest of your life. You may need to make changes to your diet and take your medications at the same times. You will work with a team of specialists and may be able to do hemodialysis at home.

What needs to be done weeks to months before hemodialysis?

You may need surgery to make an arteriovenous fistula (AVF). An AVF connects an artery directly to a vein. You may also need surgery to place an arteriovenous graft (AVG) in your arm. An AVG is an artificial tube that connects an artery directly to a vein. The AVF and AVG act as bridges for blood to go from your body to the hemodialysis machine, and back to your body. You may need a central venous catheter (CVC) if you need hemodialysis quickly. A CVC is a temporary catheter that is placed into a large vein in your neck or groin.

What is done the day of hemodialysis?

Your weight, temperature, pulse, and blood pressure will be checked. Your access site will be checked. The access site is where the blood leaves and returns to your body. You will be able to sit or recline in a chair during hemodialysis. You may sleep during the procedure if it is at night.

How often do I need hemodialysis?

You and your healthcare provider will work together to pick the right hemodialysis schedule:

Where do I get hemodialysis?

You can choose to have hemodialysis at a hospital, hemodialysis center, or possibly in your own home. You will need the right training and proper equipment to do hemodialysis in your home. You will have to check yourself before, during, and after hemodialysis. You will also need to know how to respond to alarms from the hemodialysis machine. You will need to know what to do if you are not feeling well, and when to call your healthcare provider for help. Your healthcare provider will make sure you are well prepared before he lets you do hemodialysis at home.

What happens after hemodialysis?

You may have a bandage on your access site after hemodialysis. If your access site starts to bleed, apply gentle pressure with a towel or gauze for 10 to 15 minutes. If a scab forms when it heals, do not pick it off. This can increase your risk for bleeding or infection.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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