As kidney disease progresses, a person needs to make several decisions. People in the later stages of CKD need to learn about their options for treating the last stages of kidney failure so they can make an informed choice between hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and transplantation.
What happens if the kidneys fail completely?
Total or nearly total and permanent kidney failure is called ESRD. If a person's kidneys stop working completely, the body fills with extra water and waste products. This condition is called uremia. Hands or feet may swell. A person will feel tired and weak because the body needs clean blood to function properly. Untreated uremia may lead to seizures or coma and will ultimately result in death. A person whose kidneys stop working completely will need to undergo dialysis or kidney transplantation.
The two major forms of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Hemodialysis uses a special filter called a dialyzer that functions as an artificial kidney to clean a person's blood. The dialyzer is a canister connected to the hemodialysis machine. During treatment, the blood travels through tubes into the dialyzer, which filters out wastes, extra salt, and extra water. Then the cleaned blood flows through another set of tubes back into the body. The hemodialysis machine monitors blood flow and removes wastes from the dialyzer. Hemodialysis is usually performed at a dialysis centre three times per week for 3 to 4 hours.
In peritoneal dialysis, a fluid called dialysis solution is put into the abdomen. This fluid captures the waste products from a person's blood. After a few hours when the fluid is nearly saturated with wastes, the fluid is drained through a catheter. Then, a fresh bag of fluid is dripped into the abdomen to continue the cleansing process. Patients can perform peritoneal dialysis themselves. Patients using continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) change fluid four times a day. Another form of peritoneal dialysis, called continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD), can be performed at night with a machine that drains and refills the abdomen automatically.