If you have kidney disease
If, after you have had blood and urine tests and an x-ray examination, your attending nephrologist diagnoses kidney failure, he will prescribe a suitable treatment in order to slow down the deterioration in your kidney function as much as possible.
This treatment consists of:
- Blood pressure control,
- A regimen of very specific medication,
- Regular checking of kidney function through blood tests,
- Urine tests and x-ray tests,
- An adapted diet.
If you have kidney failure
You can survive perfectly well with some reduction in kidney function. Serious medical problems occur when the kidneys are functioning at or below 20% of normal capacity. Artificial purification is necessary whenever kidney function falls to values equal to or lower than 15%.
Renal replacement treatments:
- Haemodialysis (washing of the blood by filtering out extraneous elements)
- Peritoneal dialysis (peritoneal rinsing)
- Kidney transplantation
The different types of dialysis
Dialysis treatment artificially eliminates toxins and excess fluid from the body as water and salts. There are 2 types of dialysis:
- Haemodialysis (hemo = blood): the blood is purified outside of the body by means of an artificial kidney (filter) connected to a dialysis machine. The blood is pumped and purified outside of the body by the artificial kidney via a needle or a catheter. The blood is also purified and then returned to the body. This treatment is given 3 times a week, for up to 4 hours, in our department’s dialysis centre.
- Peritoneal dialysis (peritoneum = abdominal membrane): the blood is purified through the introduction of a liquid into the abdominal cavity via a catheter permanently located in the abdomen. This is a daily treatment. It can be performed at home, both in the daytime and at night. At our dialysis centre, a special unit is dedicated to peritoneal dialysis.
Persons treated by haemodialysis must therefore attend the clinic several times a week, usually for several years. This is why our professionals make every effort to create a family atmosphere at our centre. During the dialysis session, the patient can have the use of television, radio, headphones, telephone and internet access.
Dialysis treatment is of major significance to the patient. It must be continued for life and is often seen as an intense therapy. The only alternative is a kidney transplant. However, for some patients in poor health or advanced in age and/or suffering from an adjacent disease, the chances of a successful transplant are lower.
In order to determine whether you are a good candidate for a kidney transplant, the nephrologists will examine your general state of health, blood group and the characteristics of your renal parenchyma (the part of the kidney that carries out renal function).
To reduce to a minimum the risk of rejection of the transplanted kidney, the kidney tissue must be as compatible as possible. Certain antibodies that could have an effect on the success of the transplantation must also be screened. In Belgium, the number of donors is not very high. Dialysis patients, while they wait for a kidney transplant, remain on the waiting list an average of 2.5 to 4 years.
In performing kidney transplants, the Clinic Saint-Jean works in collaboration with the university centres K.U. Leuven and U.Z. Brussel of the VUB.