Pediatric Dialysis Unit at American Hospital

Pediatric Dialysis Unit at American Hospital

Pediatric dialysis is a medical procedure that helps filter and purify blood in children suffering from kidney failure or dysfunction. The kidneys play a vital role in removing the body's waste products and excess fluids and maintaining the body's electrolyte balance. When they cannot perform these functions properly, dialysis becomes necessary to support the child's health. 

Two primary types of dialysis are used in pediatric patients: Hemodialysis (HD) and Peritoneal Dialysis (PD). 


In this procedure, the blood is filtered outside the body by passing the blood through an external dialysis machine with a dialyzer or a special filter called an artificial kidney. The dialyzer filters waste products, excess fluid, and electrolytes from the blood, and the filtered blood is then transferred back into the body. Hemodialysis is typically performed in a hospital; each session lasts 3-4 hours. Children undergoing hemodialysis usually require 3-4 sessions per week.

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis requires no external machine to clean the blood. Instead, the in-body process involves using the peritoneal membrane, a lining in the abdomen that acts as a natural filter. A sterile solution called dialysate is introduced into the stomach through a catheter, and waste products and excess fluids diffuse into the dialysate. After a specific time, the dialysate is drained from the child's body, thus ridding the waste products. A significant advantage of Peritoneal Dialysis is it can be performed at home, allowing for greater convenience and flexibility for children and their families.

The procedure can be done manually or by using a cycler machine that fills and empties the child's abdomen three to five times during the night while they sleep. However, Peritoneal Dialysis can lead to parental burnout due to the intensive caregiving involved.

Pediatric Dialysis also requires close monitoring and coordination between healthcare professionals, including pediatric nephrologists, dialysis nurses, dietitians, and social workers. The treatment aims to maintain the child's fluid and electrolyte balance, control blood pressure, remove waste products, and promote growth and development. 

The administration of dialysis, whether performed externally (Hemodialysis) or peritoneally, can create emotional and psychological challenges for pediatric patients and their families due to the demands on time, patient management, maintaining the child's regular activities such as school attendance and social activities, and monitoring their overall well-being. Parents and the child must receive support from a multidisciplinary medical team to help them successfully meet the challenges associated with pediatric dialysis. 

While dialysis is a life-sustaining treatment, it is not a cure for kidney disease. In most cases, children may require kidney transplantation as a long-term solution to replace the failed kidneys. The decision for transplantation depends on various factors, including the child's overall health, availability of a suitable donor, and medical evaluation. 

Pediatric dialysis and the specific treatment plan may vary for each child based on their needs and the underlying cause of their kidney disease. It is crucial to render the treatment as needed, deliver ongoing care, and ensure regular follow-up visits to monitor the child's progress and support their overall well-being. 

Authored by:
Abdullah Essa Alabbas

Abdullah Essa Alabbas

Consultant Pediatrician and Pediatric Nephrologist

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