Dialysis or Renal replacement therapy is a treatment method by which harmful substances are removed from the body when the kidney function decreases or there is complete kidney failure.
Usually chronic kidney disease is an irreversible process, which can be slowed by using some medications but eventually leads to complete kidney dysfunction requiring dialysis to sustain life.
Traditionally the most common method used for dialysis is hemodialysis, in which the work of kidney is done by a specialized machine that takes blood from a vessel passes it through a filter where the exchange process occurs i.e harmful substances are removed from the blood and necessary fluids & electrolytes are replaced, finally the blood returns back to the body.
For maintenance 2-3 sessions per week for 4 hours are required.
Apart from Kidney transplant which is the only definitive cure for kidney failure, hemodialysis is the second most reliable method to sustain life but it has some drawbacks too.
1. Cost: Dialysis is a lifelong treatment hence it puts a considerable financial strain unless there is some govt support.
2.Chance of infection: Infection control practices have quite improved during the last few decades, similarly dialysis machines have also improved self-disinfecting protocol but still as there is repeated exposure to blood these patients are more exposed to blood borne diseases e.g hepatitis B & C.
3. Limited slots: In resource limited countries dialysis facilities are limited, further a single machine caters only one person during a 4 hour period, hence patients are usually unable to find slots or get adequate time for their session.
4. Time: Patients have to maintain their diet and routine and travels in such a way that they can visit their dialysis centres at the exact time and remain their for 4-5 hours twice or thrice a week.
An alternative, although little bit less efficacious is peritoneal dialysis.
The Pakistani origin bloodless Peritoneal dialysis machine
Here comes the new Pakistani Medical device firm Byonyks led by a team of harvard graduates, which has made a local peritoneal dialysis machine.
So how does this machine work:
This machine works on the principle of automated peritoneal dialysis, a catheter or tube is first surgically placed in the abdomen of the patient and period of 1 month given for the wound to heal.
The patient attaches the machine to the tube at night, which continuously circulates a cleansing solution in the abdomen, the abdominal linning (or peritoneum) acts as a filter layer allowing harmful substances to move into the cleansing fluid.
After a set period of time, the fluid with the filtered waste products flows out of your abdomen and is discarded.
This has to be done everynight.
Why its done?
You need dialysis if your kidneys no longer function well enough. Kidney damage generally progresses over a number of years as a result of long-term conditions, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis)
- Multiple cysts in the kidneys (polycystic kidney disease)
Byonyks states that their machine will be affordable for the masses when released after the clinical and safety trials are completed.
It is a portable machine which also consumes considerably less water compared to a hemodialysis machine and as it is a blood-less / peritoneal dialysis machine with little expsoure to blood the chances of blood borne infections are greatly reduced.
It allows liberty and choice for the patient to carry own their daily activites, travel and less diet restrictions as dialysis sessions are more frequent and accessible to patient at their home.
Though it should be kept in mind that this method works when their is some residual kidney function present otherwise patient has to use hemodialysis only, until transplant is available. Patient or attendant’s must be in a position to operate the machine & provide necessary support if needed. Peritoneal dialsysis may also increase the chance of peritonitis, a infection of abdominal lining.