• Dialysis

    August 6, 2022 admin

    Understanding the role of Artificial Kidney

    What is the function of artificial kidney?

    The human body is a complex machine working autonomously, continuously, and persistently. One never realizes or feels or understands many things happening inside the body. There are many parts to this machine, called the organs, and they are just names for common people. These organs work in the background, inside the body, whether one is awake, sleeping, running, dancing, or doing whatever. The role of these organs is vital for survival. Unless one of these organs starts malfunctioning, nobody takes notice of them. Kidneys are essential organs for survival and a healthy body. Its function is related to the well-being of the human body. The role of the Kidney is pivotal in the smooth running of the bloodstream, the beating of the heart, flexibility of muscles, and strength of bones.

    Kidney: Role and Function

    The human body needs nutrition, and one gets most of it through the food consumed and the drinks devoured. All the intakes are not necessary but part of them and the remaining are liabilities one carries. Many of them get absorbed in the blood through the metabolism process. The human body needs a piece of machinery to filter necessary components, absorb them, filter waste, and excrete them out of the body. Kidneys work just the same, as control and filtration plant by removing waste products, excessive fluids, and harmful substances from the blood using filtering tubes. These excessive fluids and waste products are removed through urine created with a complex procedure of excretion and re-absorption. There are two kidneys, located just below the rib cage, to help this process. Kidneys are made of millions of nephrons. These nephrons consist of the glomerulus, attached to a tubule. Blood is filtered in the glomerulus. The filtered blood returns to mainstream and the remaining fluid passes through the tubule where necessary chemicals or water is added or removed according to the body’s needs. Then the final product, after much of the re-absorption of excretion, is transferred to the bladder as urine.

    Through this complex process, kidneys help to regulate salt, potassium, and acid contents in the body. the Kidney also regulates blood pressure and calcium metabolism. Hormones produced by the kidney are necessary for other organs.

    In short, kidneys perform a very critical part in keeping health by
    • Removing waste and excess fluid, removing harmful drugs, and balancing body fluids
    • By regulating blood pressure by releasing necessary hormones
    • By enhancing the process of red blood cell production
    • Controlling levels of Potassium, Calcium, and other nutrients
    • Produce essential vitamins controlling the growth
    • Produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones

    Kidney diseases:

    So when a Kidney suffers from any cause like disease, failure, or injury, it affects the entire body. The following are the most common dysfunctions and problems.

    Kidney Stones:
    Kidney stones are very common and may be caused by too much calcium absorbed from food because of an inherited disorder, or urinary tract infection or obstruction.

    Urinary tract infection:
    This is caused by germs and affects the bladder. But sometimes it can spread to the kidneys causing fever and pain.

    Congenital diseases:
    These may also affect the kidneys, causing infections and possible kidney damage.

    Polycystic and other inherited kidney diseases:
    Polycystic kidney disease is the most common inherited disease, causing the formation and inflation of cysts in the kidney, which can result in kidney failure. There are other inherited diseases, that can affect kidney functions.

    Drugs and toxins can also cause kidney problems:
    Excessive consumption of pain relievers and other meditation, toxins, pesticides, and drugs can severely affect kidneys.

    Causes for Kidney dysfunction:

    Having some type of kidney abnormality or symptoms, for a longer period, is called Chronic Kidney Disease. Some symptoms are decreased kidney functions or the presence of protein in the urine. Though there are many causes for these, leading is diabetes and high blood pressure.

    Diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney diseases. Diabetes leads to insufficient production of insulin or prevents from using a normal quantity of it properly. It increases blood sugar in the blood, causing problems in many parts of the body, and affecting severely the kidney function.

    High blood pressure or hypertension is another common cause of kidney disease and other complications such as heart attacks and strokes. Controlled hypertension can decrease the possibility of kidney dysfunction.

    The modern lifestyle is the main reason behind an increase in the number of diabetes and hypertension patients. Stress and work conditions cause high blood pressure, which in turn affects body functions leading to kidney functions. This may cause an increased quantity of potassium in the blood, resulting in Heart failure. Also, diet, alcohol, and work conditions can create diabetic conditions. Increased sugar levels will affect kidney functions which can result in kidney failure.

    Many kidney diseases can be treated with medication, diet control, or in some cases surgical treatments. But some may lead to fatal conditions.

    What is Kidney failure and remedies:

    When 80 to 90% of kidney functions are affected, it is called Kidney failure. Kidney failure is not a death sentence. Many patients live a long life with proper treatment, care, and control. There are two types of treatments. One is a kidney transplant and the other is dialysis.

    A kidney transplant is an operational treatment where a patient’s failed kidney is replaced by a healthy kidney. This kidney can be procured from someone who died, or from a willing healthy donor, a relative, friend, or stranger. The kidney transplant procedure has a high success rate.

    Dialysis is another procedure that rids the body from waste material, excessive salts, and fluids and cleans the blood, and helps blood pressure.

    When dialysis is required?

    Dialysis is needed when the kidney function reduces to 10 to 15 %. Dialysis filters blood with help of an external machine, a dialyzer, or an artificial kidney.

    There are two types of dialysis. One is hemodialysis, where blood is filtered by an external machine and filters called a dialyzer. Other is peritoneal dialysis, where the inside lining of the patient’s belly acts as a natural filter. Wastes are taken out by the means of a cleansing fluid called dialysate, which is washed in and out of the patient’s belly in cycles. This treatment is not for everyone as it is a little complicated and needs training and care.

    Hemodialysis and dialyzer:

    Hemodialysis is performed with help of a dialysis machine and a special filter called an artificial kidney or a dialyzer. Blood is pumped out of the body with help of the machine and passed through a dialyzer which filters waste materials, excessive salts, and extra fluid and returns clear blood to the body. Excessive water, salts, and fluid are then disposed of.

    The main component in this entire procedure is a dialyzer or artificial kidney. It consists of two parts, one for the blood and the other for cleaning or washing fluid called dialysate. These two parts are separated by a thin membrane that prevents blood cells, proteins, and other important things to remain in the blood. This is achieved by the simple fact that blood cells, proteins, and other important things have a larger size than the waste like creatinine, urea, potassium, and other excessive salts and fluid. So membrane size is adjusted in such a way that it allows only smaller components to pass in dialysate and keep important components in blood.

    Hemodialysis can be performed at home with help of a trained person. But the doctor’s opinion or suggestion is important in this matter. The patient’s consultant and dialysis expert team will have to monitor the progress and test reports to assure proper treatment.

    Patients on dialysis need to follow some diet regulations. High protein intake is advised, whereas food with high potassium, phosphorous, sodium, and fluid is generally avoided.

    A Patient on dialysis can work or travel with proper care and the doctor’s guidance.

    Limitations of dialyzer over natural kidney:

    Though dialysis is one of the key treatments for kidney failure, it has limitations. A dialyzer is the most important component of the procedure and aptly called an Artificial Kidney, it has some limitations. The first one is repeated use. Dialyzer can be reused, but it has limitations and after some cycles, it has to be replaced by a new one.

    Secondly, can dialyzer be considered a complete replacement for a kidney? The answer is negative. Purifying blood is one of the functions of the kidney. It is a very important function, but it’s not the only important function kidney performs. The kidney helps in many other body-controlling actions by creating important hormones, enhancing the process of red blood cell production, produce an active form of vitamin D necessary for strong, healthy bones. A dialyzer cannot perform all these tasks, it only purifies the blood. It cannot replace the kidney. So even if an artificial kidney is a blessing for patients with kidney failure, it has limited utility. Helpful, but limited! This artificial kidney will help extend the life span, but achieving quality life depends on the patient.


    The best way to achieve quality life is to avoid trouble, in the context of our article, avoid conditions leading to kidney failure. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and a disciplined lifestyle are key factors for a healthy and quality life. Inherited diseases are not in our control, but modern undisciplined lifestyles and uncontrolled eating habits are culprits for increasing numbers of hypertension and diabetes patients which can be controlled with small changes in habits and lifestyle.

    Dialysis and artificial kidneys are one of the best available treatments available for kidney failures, they are easily available and affordable for most, yet these are remedial procedures. One can decide whether they want easily available treatment or quality life.

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