January 20, 2024

Dialysis A to Z: Process, Reliability, and Comprehensive Care

Dialysis (Hemo-Dialysis, HD) substitutes renal function for Chronic Kidney Disease patients, ensuring longer survival and improved quality of life. Timely referral of pre-end-stage CKD patients to nephrologists is crucial.

Initiation of dialysis depends on various factors like:

  • Cardiac function
  • Age
  • Mobility
  • Overall health,
  • Lab results
  • Patient commitment

The dialysis process, primarily hemodialysis, employs an artificial kidney, fistula, or catheter in a major vein. Waste substances move from the blood to the filtration fluid, and vice versa, enhancing the patient’s well-being. Arteriovenous fistula creation is a crucial step by a vascular surgeon to achieve optimal blood flow.

The “artificial kidney” is a filter in a specialized machine. Blood passes through a porous membrane, removing toxins. The cleansed blood returns to the patient. This process, crucial for patient survival, balances fluids and electrolytes. The success relies on quality, with the filter as a key regulator.

Specifically, a fistula is a surgical connection between an artery and vein, usually in the upper extremity, enhancing blood flow for effective dialysis. The venous catheter, a small plastic tube, accesses dialysis by creating an entry point. Placed in a large vein, it’s termed a central venous catheter.

The procedure involves the following steps:

• Create vascular access (fistula, synthetic graft, temporary, or permanent catheter).

  • Plan needle and bloodline placement.
  • Install the Dialysis Filter.
  • Solution. Usually, dialysis lasts 3 to 5 hours, occurring three or four times per week.

Reliability and Quality in Hemodialysis

Hemodialysis is typically conducted in dedicated units, either independently or as integral parts of hospitals or clinics. The use of dialysis machines allows for personalized treatment for end-stage renal failure patients. Due to the multifactor nature of the dialysis process, it is crucial to be within an organized clinic staffed with experienced professionals of various specialties. Specifically, expertise is required from nephrologists, specialized nurses familiar with the challenges of dialysis treatment, cardiologists with experience in renal patient issues, and a team of vascular surgeons with significant clinical experience in creating vascular accesses (grafts, fistulas, central venous catheters). Moreover, ensuring a comfortable and safe environment at the Dialysis Center is essential, as the dialysis process is a fundamental part of the patient’s life.

How Hemodialysis Affects Patient Health

Hemodialysis is a chronic and repetitive process, requiring patients to adapt to a new lifestyle due to chronic kidney failure. This new way of life entails spending a significant amount of time in the dialysis unit, adhering to dietary rules, taking prescribed medications, and maintaining consistency. Additionally, hemodialysis impacts the overall health of the patient on various levels.


Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) often develop anemia, characterized by a low red blood cell count. This can result in fatigue and may lead to a cardiac condition known as left ventricular hypertrophy. Anemia can be addressed with a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO) and additional iron. Correcting anemia helps maintain heart health.

Cardiovascular Disease

Patients undergoing dialysis also have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but they can help themselves through prevention. Firstly, it is essential to take measures to control health issues that may lead to cardiovascular disease, especially diabetes and high blood pressure. Following a healthy lifestyle is crucial, including eating the right foods, regular exercise, and quitting smoking.

The Importance of Comprehensive Care for Dialysis Patients

Modern dialysis treats the dialysis patient as an active member of society in all aspects of daily life (as an employee, athlete, student, etc.).
Effective communication with medical and nursing staff, psychological support, access to health services, and the provision of quality care appear to reduce the need for daily nursing care for patients with Chronic Kidney Disease and improve their quality of life.

The success of a good quality of life is based on the good collaboration of the patient – doctor – nurse triangle and the philosophy of treating the chronic patient as a valuable and independent unit.

In Athens Hospital we provide synchronized dialysis units, ensuring the highest standards of care.