The dialysis patients are very familiar with the course of their treatments – they go to a clinic, they get weighed, then they have their blood pressure and their temperature taken, they get stuck with needles (unless the patient has an access to catheter), they have tubes connected to them from their access to the dialyzer and then quietly sit in their chairs until it is time for them to go home.

But, have you ever wondered how the dialysis machine actually works? If not, today we would like to take the opportunity and explain to you one of the most frequently asked questions about the dialysis machine.

Dialysis Machine

  1. What does the dialysis machine actually do?

It mixes the monitor and the dialysate. The dialysate is the fluid which helps you remove all the unwanted or toxic products in the blood. Also, it helps you get your minerals and electrolytes in the body to a proper level.

Furthermore, the machine monitors the flow of blood while it is outside of the body. From time to time, one can even hear an alarm go off. This is the machine’s way of telling you that something needs to be checked out.

  1. What are the plastic jugs in front of the machine for?

The plastic jugs are used to hold up the liquid which is used to mix the dialysate. The machine will mix up the dialysate (which is by the way made up out of an acidified solution, bicarbonate and purified water), and this is the process.

The acidified solution contains plenty of minerals and electrolytes, the bicarbonate is something similar to the baking soda, and both of them are mixed up with water in order to create this solution. While you are connected to the machine, your blood flow and the dialysate go through the dialyzer, but they never touch.

The fresh dialysate enters from the machine through your dialyzer while you are on this treatment. All the impurities from your blood are filtered out of it into the dialysate. Basically, the dialysate contains all the excess waste products and the excess electrolytes this way are leaving the dialyzer and are washed down the drain.

  1. How does the blood leave and enter the body?

The blood tubing carries the blood, from the access to the dialzser. Then, the blood tubing is inserting in the blood pump. The blood pump there turns in a circular motion.

Finally, the pumping action of the blood pump makes your blood flow right through the dialyzer and back into your body.

  1. What does the syringe attached to the machine contain?

When it moves through the blood tubing, the blood tends to clot. In order to prevent this, the nurse will provide you with a drug named heparin. Your doctor determines how much heparin you need for each treatment.

All of that heparin is drawn up into the syringe and then is placed onto the machine and into the heparin pump. This pump is programmed to release just the right amount of heparin you need in each of your treatments. So, this helps your blood from ever clotting.

  1. How does this machine preserve my safety?

The one problem that may happen during the dialysis is that air constantly gets into the blood tubing. So, in order to prevent this from ever happening, the blood tubings contain two air strips built into them.

One is just before the dialyzer and one is right after it. These traps are able to catch any air that can get into the system. And if this happens, if some puff of air slips through these both traps, then the air sensor in the machine sounds an alarm and shuts down the blood pump. All of the blood flow is stopped until the air is removed.

  1. But, why are there so many alarms?

The machine constantly monitors the pressure which is created by the dialyzer and the blood tubing. It will also monitor your flow of blood, your temperature and the proper mixture of the dialysate.

So, if anything of these segments goes out of the usual order, the machine sounds an alarm, blinks with a light and shuts down the flow of blood or the flow of dialysate. The machine can also let you know if your blood pressure is too high or too low. And finally, it alarms when it is time for you go to home.

Even though these are just the beginnings of the questions you may have and we have not even touched upon a part of them, we hope this article has been of some help to you. Ask the nurses at your dialysis center for anything else you are interested in. Because let’s face it, the more you know, the more comfortable you will be in your treatments.