Treatments in nephrology can include medications, blood products, surgical interventions (urology, vascular or surgical procedures), renal replacement therapy (dialysis or kidney transplantation) and plasma exchange. Kidney problems can have a significant impact on quality and length of life, and so psychological support, health education, and advanced care planning play key roles in nephrology.
When the kidneys are no longer able to sustain the demands of the body, end-stage kidney failure is said to have occurred. Without renal replacement therapy, death from kidney failure will eventually result. Dialysis is an artificial method of replacing some kidney function to prolong life. Renal transplantation replaces kidney function by inserting into the body a healthier kidney from an organ donor and inducing immunologic tolerance of that organ with immunosuppression. At present, renal transplantation is the most effective treatment for end-stage kidney failure although its worldwide availability is limited by lack of availability of donor organs.
Dialysis is a life-saving procedure for patients whose kidneys are not working properly, in which excess water and waste products are removed from the body. In hemodialysis, blood is drawn out through a tube in the patient’s arm into a special machine which filters the blood and pumps it back into the body. This procedure can last several hours, during which a patient’s entire blood courses through the machine numerous times. In peritoneal dialysis, the space inside the abdomen called the ‘peritoneal cavity’ is used for dialysis.
Conditions We Treat: