Glossary

Glossary

Abdomen

The abdomen is also referred to as the belly. It is the part of the body between the chest and the pelvis. The abdomen includes the stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, appendix, gallbladder, bladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum.

Abdominal Cavity

The space between the abdominal wall and the spine. It contains several vital organs including the lower part of the esophagus, the stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, bladder, colon, and rectum.

Acute Renal Failure

Renal failure can happen suddenly or over a long period of time. When it happens quickly, it is usually due to a traumatic event or complications of other conditions. This is known as “acute” renal failure. With proper treatment, it is sometimes possible for kidneys affected by acute renal failure to recover normal function.

Adequacy

The term used to describe how well a patient has dialyzed. It is a calculation based on the amount of waste products in the blood before treatment compared to after treatment. Sometimes it is referred to as clearance.

Albumin

Albumin is a major protein found in blood. Protein is important because it helps repair and build muscle tissue and helps the body ward off infection. Albumin is produced in the liver. If a person does not eat enough calories with enough protein, the liver cannot produce new albumin. Speak with your dietitian about monitoring and maintaining your albumin levels.

Artery

An artery is a blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart to the farthest reaches of the body. This blood is rich in oxygen.

Arteriovenous Fistula (AVF)

Blood usually flows from the arteries to the capillaries to the veins. Blood in the capillaries carries nutrients and oxygen to body tissue. An arteriovenous fistula creates a connection from an artery directly to a vein and bypasses the capillaries.

Arteriovenous fistulas are surgically created in the forearm to make dialysis easier. AV fistulas are beneficial because the vein used tends to grow larger and stronger making it easier to access the blood system. It is a more efficient method of removing and replacing blood with fewer complications.

It might take a few months for an AV fistula to become serviceable. After surgery to create the AV fistula, your doctor may encourage you to frequently squeeze a stress ball in order to speed up the development of the fistula.

Arteriovenous Graft (AVG)

An arteriovenous graft is a prosthetic graft that is surgically created using a synthetic tube to connect an artery to a vein.

Azotemia

Azotemia is a condition that occurs when the urea- or nitrogen-containing compounds are higher than what is normally found in blood. The serum BUN (blood urea nitrogen) level test can check the levels of these compounds in the blood supply.

Blood Pressure

A blood pressure reading measures the pressure that the blood exerts on blood vessels. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Over time, elevated blood pressure can damage the body’s blood vessels.

If blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged, they can stop filtering wastes and extra fluid from the body. Then blood pressure can rise even more due to the extra fluid in the blood vessels. Please have your blood pressure monitored regularly.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)

Blood urea nitrogen is a test used to read the urea level in blood. Urea nitrogen is cleaned from the blood by the kidneys. Diseases that affect the function of the kidneys often cause increased urea nitrogen levels in blood. If a patient is dehydrated, the BUN level can also be elevated.

Calcium

Calcium is an important mineral that your body needs to function properly. When undergoing dialysis, the goal is to keep your various mineral levels close to normal.

Low calcium levels can cause tingling and numbness or muscle spasms and muscle cramping. High calcium levels can cause loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, excessive urination and severe thirst.

Your doctor will want to regularly monitor the levels of calcium and other minerals in your blood while you are on dialysis.

Catheter

In hemodialysis, a catheter is a device used to access the blood system. Catheters that are used for hemodialysis have two channels, one to remove blood from the body and the other to return it.

Hemodialysis catheters are often for short-term use and may be inserted into a central vein. Long-term access for hemodialysis is best provided through arteriovenous fistulas.

The access point for peritoneal dialysis is a catheter, which is a soft plastic tube inserted into your abdominal cavity. Part of the catheter remains outside your body, typically near your navel, and it is sealed when not in use.

Central Venous Catheter (CVC)

A central venous catheter is a way of accessing the blood system for dialysis. If time does not allow for the development of an AVF because the kidney disease has progressed rapidly, then a venous catheter can be a temporary access until an alternative is available.

Catheters that will be used for more than a few weeks are tunneled under the skin to increase comfort and reduce complications.

Chronic Renal Failure

Chronic renal failure happens when the kidneys gradually lose their ability to remove the body’s waste. There are many causes of chronic renal failure, including genetic conditions and autoimmune diseases, but the most common are diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure).

These two conditions can wear out the kidneys due to the extra effort required to filter out the extreme levels of fluid, salts, and waste that result from their effect on the body.

Clearance

See also adequacy. Clearance is a term used to describe how well a patient has dialyzed. Kidney function can be measured with a urine test called the “creatinine clearance.”

Urine is collected for one full day in a special container. The amount of waste products in the urine and blood can be estimated by the creatinine levels and give an idea of how well the kidneys are functioning.

Dialysis

Dialysis is a process that filters excess fluid, salts, and waste from your body with the help of a cleansing solution and a substitute filter.

Dialysis treatments are typically scheduled three to five times per week, for three to five hours per session.

 

Dialyzer

A dialyzer is a special filter containing thousands of small fibers. A cleansing solution inside the dialyzer is pumped around the fibers. Your blood passes through the dialyzer.

The fibers allow wastes and extra fluid to pass from your blood and remain in the solution, which carries the waste away. Sometimes the dialyzer is referred to as an artificial kidney because it helps filter your blood much like your kidney would.

Some dialysis centers may clean the dialyzer and use it more than once with the same patient. This process is known as “reuse”. Dialyspa has a strict non-reuse policy. This means we only use a dialyzer once. You will receive a new dialyzer at each dialysis session you have at Dialyspa.

 

Epogen

If the kidneys are not functioning properly, lower-than-normal amounts of erythropoietin can lower red blood cell production. This is a condition called anemia.

Epogen is a synthetic erythropoietin that can be injected if kidney disease-related anemia needs to be treated. Epogen may be a standard part of therapy for dialysis patients to both treat and prevent anemia.

 

Erythropoietin (EPO)

EPO is a hormone produced mainly by the kidney. It is the main regulator of the production of red blood cells. EPO supports the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow.

The body uses a protein called ferritin to store iron. Low or high levels of ferritin can be an indication of various diseases. Ferritin levels are easily checked with a blood test called the TSAT.

 

Fistula

The term fistula refers to a passageway in the body that is not naturally formed. In dialysis, the term fistula usually refers to an arteriovenous fistula (AVF). Fistulas are considered the gold standard for hemodialysis access.

Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR)

A simple blood test called a GFR can tell how well the kidneys are working. Request that your doctor makes this part of your routine check-up.

Hemodialysis

The most common treatment for advanced or permanent renal failure is hemodialysis. During hemodialysis, your blood flows slowly through a special filter, called a dialyzer, which will filter and remove extra fluids and wastes from your blood system. Your clean blood is then returned to your body.

Removing the wastes, extra fluids, and salt from your blood helps to balance your chemical levels, such as potassium and sodium. Hemodialysis will also aid in controlling your blood pressure.

 

Hemoglobin

The protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues is called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin also returns carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs.

 

Home Hemodialysis

Depending on your needs and ability, you may have the option to receive hemodialysis treatments in the comfort of your own home.

The process is the same, but you will need to have a partner or caregiver present to help you monitor your session, and either you or your partner will need to perform the needle sticks.

With home hemodialysis, you will keep the machine and equipment at your home. This means you will have more flexibility over what time of day to receive your treatments, but you will still need to perform treatments according to the weekly schedule your doctor provides.

If you choose a home modality, you will receive full training and guidance from Dialyspa nurses.

 

Iron

Iron is important to your body for many reasons. It is a mineral needed to maintain overall health and adequate red blood cells. Iron helps your body make hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells.

When there is not enough iron, red blood cells won’t have enough hemoglobin to carry oxygen.

Iron levels should be monitored by your doctor and dialysis care team. At Dialyspa, a full-time nutritionist is on hand to assist you in finding dietary ways to increase your iron levels.

 

Kidney

Our bodies have two kidneys. Each kidney is about the size of a fist. They are located in your abdomen on either side of your spine at the level of your lowest rib.

The kidneys filter and return fluid to the bloodstream. The fluid the kidneys filter from the body is called urine. Urine passes from the kidneys to the bladder where it is stored until elimination.

The kidneys perform the following life-sustaining functions:

  • Balance the body’s fluid levels
  • Remove waste from the body
  • Release hormones that regulate blood pressure
  • Control the production of red blood cells
  • Filter and remove drugs form the body
  • Produce a form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones

Nitrogen

Healthy kidneys filter almost 200 quarts of blood every day and create approximately two quarts of waste called urine. Waste products like blood urea nitrogen (BUN) stay in the bloodstream when the kidneys aren’t working properly. Nitrogen levels can be measured with a blood test.

Peritoneal

Peritoneal is a word used when referring to the peritoneum. The peritoneum is the membrane that lines your abdominal cavity and covers most of the abdominal organs.

 

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis is a type of home dialysis, meaning you will perform it yourself in the comfort of your own home.

During peritoneal dialysis, the dialysate sits in your abdominal cavity and absorbs excess fluid, salts, and waste from the tiny blood vessels within the peritoneum. When you empty the dialysate at the end of the exchange, you are also removing the waste products.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is a mineral found in your bones. Phosphorus and calcium are both needed for building healthy, strong bones. Phosphorus also helps other parts of your body stay healthy.

Normal functioning kidneys remove extra phosphorus from your blood. Your kidneys cannot remove phosphorus very well when you have chronic kidney disease (CKD).

High phosphorus levels can be damaging to your entire body. Extra phosphorus in the bloodstream can make your bones weak because it will pull calcium out of your bones.

High phosphorus and calcium levels can negatively affect your eyes, lungs, blood vessels, and heart. Phosphorus and calcium control is very important for your overall health.

Dialysis can remove some phosphorus from your system, but it is important to learn how to limit build-up of phosphorus between dialysis treatments. Your doctor and nutritionist can help you learn to control your phosphorus levels.

Potassium

Potassium is a mineral found in many foods you eat. It helps keep muscles working right and your heartbeat regular. Healthy kidneys regulate the amount of potassium in your body.

When your kidneys are not healthy, you might need to limit foods that increase the potassium in your blood. If your potassium level is elevated, you might feel weakness, numbness, and tingling.

If your potassium becomes too high, it can cause issues such as an irregular heartbeat or heart attack. If you are on dialysis, you should limit foods that are high in potassium. Your nutritionist will help guide your food choices and portion sizes so you are getting the right amount of potassium.

Proteinuria

Proteinuria means “protein in the urine.” It is normal to find some protein in urine, but too much means protein is leaking through the kidney. The main protein in human blood is albumin. Proteinuria is sometimes called albuminuria.

A simple urine test can detect proteinuria. There are usually no symptoms in the early stages. Proteinuria is often the first indicator of kidney damage.

High blood pressure and diabetes are two common causes of proteinuria.

Renal

Renal is a term used for something relating to the kidneys.

Sodium

Sodium helps regulate blood pressure and fluid levels within the body, but too much sodium can cause high blood pressure and water retention, both of which can quickly become problematic for dialysis patients.

Reducing sodium intake is difficult in any diet because many prepared foods include high levels of sodium—everything from packaged crackers to frozen dinners to many condiments.

On the positive side, the better you are able to monitor your sodium intake, the more improvement you will see in your ability to regulate your fluids and reduce thirst.

Your nutritionist will help you identify low-sodium foods to enjoy and high-sodium foods to avoid.

 

Transferrin Saturation (TSAT)

The amount of iron stored in the body is indicted by the level of ferritin in the blood. Transferrin saturation is a score that indicates how much iron is available to produce red blood cells.

Urea

Urea is a substance containing nitrogen that is normally cleaned from the blood by the kidney and passes into the urine. Increased blood levels of urea can indicate diseases that affect the kidneys. Urea levels are checked with a BUN test.

Uremia

Uremia is the term used to describe excessive amounts of urea in the blood. The presence of uremia can be a sign of kidney disease or failure.

Ureter

The ureter is a tube that connects the kidney to the bladder.

Urine

The production of urine involves highly complex steps taken by the kidneys. The kidneys regulate body fluid levels and eliminate waste by producing urine. The production of urine is necessary to maintain a stable balance of body chemicals.

Urine is a transparent liquid that is generally amber in color. It passes from the kidney through the ureter and is stored in the bladder until elimination from the body.

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