How does it work?
During haemodialysis the blood is treated by passing it through an artificial kidney.
Plastic tubes connect you to the dialysis machine and, in order to provide a good blood flow, a fistula, or neckline, or other device will be necessary.
Most patients will have a fistula constructed in the arm and this will require a brief admission to hospital. It is not usually a major procedure. It will be done under a general or local anaesthetic and the staff will explain the procedure to you.
Whilst your fistula is developing, it may be necessary to place a temporary plastic tube in one of the blood vessels in your neck. This temporary measure will allow you to have dialysis until your fistula is ready for use. These tubes are not as good as a fistula because they may become blocked or infected.
Where, when, how long?
Most patients require three sessions a week with each session lasting between three and five hours, depending on your needs.
Dialysis itself is relatively painless, although initially you may feel a bit light-headed at the end of each session. For this reason we ask you not to drive during the first few weeks after coming off treatment.
Are problems common?
In general, most patients feel physically better after two or three weeks of treatment but haemodialysis may cause side effects.
Generally speaking, your energy levels may drop a bit as haemodialysis can be a bit tiring, particularly the day after treatment. Take this into account and try not to over-stretch yourself.
It is also important to note that people with kidney failure are more prone to infection. Any sign of infection such as sore throats, boils or fever, should be reported to the Unit staff.
Simple measures such as maintaining good personal hygiene and eating sensibly within the guidelines go a long way to helping you feel well.
On the whole, once you are established on treatment, you should feel quite an improvement in your overall health.
What about my diet on haemodialysis?
Haemodialysis treatment only takes place for an average 12 hours in the week, leaving many hours when you have little or no kidney function. It is therefore important to control your diet to avoid excessive accumulation of fluid and the waste products
It is, however, possible to have a normal protein intake but you will have to restrict salt, potassium (particularly in potatoes, chocolate and fruits) and to take phosphate binders (eg Phosex, Calcichew or Calcium 500) before your meals.
The amount of fluid you will be able to drink depends entirely on the amount of urine you pass and this may diminish once treatment starts.
The fluid allowance is 500 mls plus an amount equal to the urine volume passed.
Please also see our article on diet for more information.
|St Helier Patients lnitially you will be dialysed at St Helier Hospital and, if you wish, you will be encouraged to become involved in the treatment process. This helps to maintain your independence. Patients are encouraged to make their own arrangements for transport to the dialysis unit but, if necessary, the staff can arrange for you to be brought in by ambulance or ambulance car.
You may be transferred to the satellite units which greatly reduces your travelling time. Whatever your treatment, help is available from the Renal Unit at St Helier at all times, day and night, by our fully trained and qualified staff.
You will be advised whether to attend in the morning, afternoon or evening shift. Every effort will be made to give you a time and to complete your treatment promptly but please remember that delays are sometimes unavoidable, for example when an emergency arises, technical problems crop up or transport difficulties develop. We will try to accommodate you on the shift most suited to you but we would emphasise that the late evening shift is usually reserved for patients who have been stabilised on treatment and this can take a few months.
After a spell, consideration may be given to a home dialysis installation which also increases your independence. Should this be decided upon, the hospital make all the arrangements and meet the costs. A “helper”, usually a spouse, partner or relative, will be taught how to assist you.