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Glossary of Dialysis Terms

Updated: Jul 5

Dialysis is a crucial treatment for those with severe kidney issues. Understanding the terminology related to dialysis can help patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals communicate more effectively and make informed decisions about treatment options.

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Definitions of Dialysis Terms


  • Definition: A process where a dialysis machine and a special filter, called an artificial kidney or dialyzer, are used to clean the blood.

  • Details: Hemodialysis is typically done in a dialysis center, but can sometimes be performed at home.

Peritoneal Dialysis

  • Definition: A treatment that uses the lining of your abdomen (peritoneum) and a cleaning solution called dialysate to clean your blood.

  • Details: There are two main types of peritoneal dialysis: Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) and Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD).


  • Definition: The fluid used in dialysis to help remove waste products and excess substances from the blood.

  • Details: Dialysate is carefully formulated to draw toxins out of the blood while balancing electrolyte levels.

Arteriovenous (AV) Fistula

  • Definition: A surgical connection made between an artery and a vein, usually in the arm, for hemodialysis access.

  • Details: An AV fistula is considered the best option for long-term hemodialysis because it lasts longer and has fewer complications than other types of access.

Dialysis Machine

  • Definition: A machine that removes waste products and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys can no longer perform this function.

  • Details: The machine controls the flow of blood from the patient to the dialyzer and back to the patient.


  • Definition: A condition involving abnormally high levels of waste products in the blood.

  • Details: Uremia occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to filter waste effectively and can cause symptoms like nausea, fatigue, and confusion.

Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT)

  • Definition: A slow and continuous form of dialysis used in critically ill patients.

  • Details: CRRT is typically used in intensive care units and allows for the gradual removal of fluid and solutes.

Dialysis Access

  • Definition: The site on the body where blood is removed and returned during dialysis.

  • Details: Common types include AV fistulas, AV grafts, and central venous catheters.

AV Graft

  • Definition: A piece of synthetic tubing used to connect an artery to a vein for dialysis access.

  • Details: AV grafts are used when a patient’s veins are not suitable for an AV fistula.

Central Venous Catheter (CVC)

  • Definition: A tube placed in a large vein, typically in the neck, chest, or groin, for temporary dialysis access.

  • Details: CVCs are usually used for short-term dialysis or while waiting for a more permanent access to mature.

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Understanding these terms can greatly aid in managing dialysis treatment effectively. For more detailed information on related aspects, check out our other blog posts linked below.

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This blog has been AI written and human edited

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