Abdominal cavity: Area of the body that contains the internal organs such as the stomach, liver, and intestines.
Access: A means of getting into the blood stream in hemodialysis or into the peritoneal cavity in peritoneal dialysis. For hemodialysis, the most common accesses are a fistula, graft, or subclavian catheter. In peritoneal dialysis the access is a catheter into the abdominal cavity.
Acute kidney failure: Sudden, short-term loss of kidney function, usually due to accidents, trauma to the body during surgery, poisonings, or drugs.
Acute tubular necrosis (ATN): Damage to the tubes in the kidney's nephrons. Most common cause of acute kidney failure.
Anemia: Condition caused by too few red blood cells in the blood that can result in feeling weak and tired.
Antibody: A protein made by the body to kill a foreign (unknown) substance that has entered the body, such as a transplanted organ.
Antigen: A foreign (unknown) substance that the body senses does not belong to it, which causes the body to develop antibodies.
Anticoagulants: Medicines used to help keep blood from clotting or clotting too easily.
Arteries: Blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart toward the body's tissues.
Artificial kidney machine: Equipment that uses an artificial kidney to remove waste products and extra water from the body.
Asepsis: The absence of germs.
Bladder: An organ that holds urine created by the kidneys.
Blood chemistries: Tests taken to measure the amount of certain chemicals and waste products in the blood.
Blood tubing: Tubing that carries blood from the patient to the dialyzer and back again.
Blood pressure: The pressure or pushing force of blood against the walls of arteries. This is noted as two numbers, such as 140/90. This is read as “140 over 90.” The systolic (top) number shows the pressure of the heart pumping (contracting). The diastolic (bottom) number is the pressure when the heart is at rest.
Bruit: The sound made by blood flowing inside a fistula.
Cadaver kidney: A kidney donated for a transplant from someone who has died.
Calcium: A mineral found in the bones, teeth, and body tissues. It strengthens bones.
Chronic kidney disease: The slow damage of kidney tissue over months or years. This results in chronic kidney failure, also known as end stage renal disease (ESRD).
Concentrate: A solution of chemicals mixed with water to make the dialysate (dialysis cleaning fluid).
Creatinine: A waste product that results from the breakdown of protein in the muscles.
Creatinine clearance: A test to measure how well the kidneys clean waste products from the blood; a renal function test.
Cross match: A test to check for a reaction between a possible transplant patient's blood and the donor's blood. A negative cross match means there is no reaction, and the transplant can proceed.
Cycler: A machine that does peritoneal dialysis solution exchanges in regular cycles during the night.
Cyclosporine: A drug used after a transplant to prevent rejection of a new organ by suppressing (reducing the function of) the body's immune system.
Diabetes: A disease of the pancreas that causes high sugar levels in the blood. It can cause kidney disease.
Dialysate (dialysis fluid): The cleansing fluid used in dialysis to remove extra water and waste products from the blood.
Dialysis: Treatment used to remove waste products and extra water from the body when the kidneys have failed. This is done through an artificial kidney machine (hemodialysis) or the peritoneal membrane in the abdomen (peritoneal dialysis).
Dialyzer: An artificial kidney or filter (membrane) that removes waste products and extra water from the blood during hemodialysis.
Diffusion: Movement of particles through a membrane from a solution with more particles, to a solution with fewer particles. Diffusion causes waste products to move from the blood into the dialysate during dialysis.
Disequilibrium: A condition that sometimes happens during dialysis when waste products are removed from the blood too quickly.
Dry weight: A person's weight (such as after dialysis) when there is no excess body fluid.
Edema: Swelling in certain parts of the body because of extra fluid.
End stage renal disease (ESRD): Chronic or permanent kidney damage and failure resulting in the kidneys no longer working well enough to keep a person healthy and alive.
EPO or Epogen: A medicine given to kidney patients with anemia (low red blood cell count). It replaces erythropoietin, a hormone no longer made by failed kidneys.
Erythropoietin: A hormone made by the kidneys that triggers the bone marrow to make red blood cells.
Exchange: The process of replacing used dialysate (cleaning solution) with fresh dialysate in peritoneal dialysis.
Fistula: A surgical connection between an artery and a vein that enlarges the vein due to the flow of blood in the artery.
Fistula needles: Needles inserted into the blood access (fistula, etc.) that connect the patient's blood stream to the blood tubing for dialysis.
Fluid overload: Extra fluid in the body that creates swelling, breathing problems, and extra work for the heart.
Frequent or daily dialysis: Dialysis done 5 or 6 days a week for a shorter time, improving energy, health and well being, and reducing diet restrictions.
Glomeruli: Blood vessels inside each of the 1 million nephrons in a kidney that filters and removes waste products and extra fluid from the blood to form urine.
Glomerulonephritis: A disease in which the glomeruli, or tiny filters in the kidneys, become damaged from inflammation. It affects both kidneys and can result in chronic kidney failure. It is also known as Bright's disease or nephritis.
Graft: Graft has two meanings in relation to kidney failure: (1) a transplanted kidney, and (2) an access made by surgically joining an artery and a vein using an
artificial tube usually in the lower arm.
Hematocrit: A measure of the amount of red blood cells in the blood.
Hemodialysis: A type of treatment for kidney failure in which blood is slowing pumped through an artificial kidney to remove waste products and extra water from the body.
Hemoglobin: Molecules on red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.
Heparin: A blood thinner (anticoagulant) that prevents clotting of the blood in the dialyzer.
Hepatitis: Inflammation of the liver.
Hepatitis B surface antigen: A blood test that shows an infection with the hepatitis B virus.
High flux dialysis: Hemodialysis using a special dialyzer membrane and higher blood flows.
Hollow fiber dialyzer: An artificial kidney with hollow, thread like fibers made of porous (many microscopic or very tiny holes) material.
Home dialysis: Hemodialysis (traditional or frequent/daily) or peritoneal dialysis (done by hand during the day or by machine at night) performed in a patient's home.
Hyperkalemia: High level of potassium in the blood.
Hypertension: High blood pressure or too much pressure from blood against the inner walls of blood vessels.
Hypervolemia: Too much fluid in the blood stream.
Hypokalemia: Low potassium level in the blood.
Hypotension: Low blood pressure.
Hypovolemia: Not enough fluid in the blood stream.
Immunosuppressive drugs: Medicines given to transplant patients to keep the body from rejecting a transplanted organ. They “suppress” the immune system.
Impotency: A man’s inability to have an erection.
Iron: A metal used by the blood to carry oxygen.
Kidneys: Two organs located in the back near the waist that keep the body in chemical balance. Kidneys keep this balance by getting rid of waste products and extra fluid as urine. They also make hormones that are important for control of blood pressure and for making red blood cells.
Kidney transplant: Surgery to place a donated kidney (cadaver or living related) into the body of someone who has chronic kidney failure.
Kilogram: A unit of weight. There are 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.
Membrane: A thin, porous (many microscopic or very tiny holes) material that is machine made or a natural part of the body.
Negative pressure: In hemodialysis, suction that removes fluid from the blood.
Nephrectomy: Surgery to remove a kidney.
Nephrologist: A doctor who specializes in the treatment of people with kidney diseases.
Nephrons: The small working parts of the kidney made up of small blood vessels (glomeruli). They keep the body in chemical balance by removing waste products and extra fluid. Each kidney has about one million nephrons.
Neuropathy: Diseases of the nerves that make the patient less sensitive to such things as temperature, pressure, and pain.
Osmosis: Movement of fluid through a membrane from a solution with fewer particles to a solution with more particles.
Parathyroid glands: Small glands located in or around the thyroid gland in the neck. They produce a hormone to regulate the body's calcium and phosphorous levels.
Peritoneal catheter: Tubing placed surgically through the wall of the abdomen and used as an access for peritoneal dialysis.
Peritoneal dialysis: A process in which dialysate is drained into and out of the abdominal cavity (belly). The peritoneal membrane lining the belly filters the blood and functions like the membrane in the artificial kidney. It can be done with or without a machine
Peritoneal membrane: The lining the abdomen or peritoneal cavity, used for the filter in peritoneal dialysis.
Peritonitis: A type of infection that causes inflammation of the peritoneal membrane.
Phosphate binders: Medicine that prevents the body from absorbing phosphorous by binding it to the stool.
Phosphorus: A mineral needed by the body to form bone, but high levels can damage bone. It is not filtered out of the blood during dialysis.
Polycystic kidney disease: A hereditary disease in which small sacs or cysts form on the kidneys and damage them. This can lead to kidney failure.
Potassium: A mineral needed by the body for normal muscle and nerve function.
Punctures: Putting needles into the fistula or graft to start dialysis.
Red blood cells: Cells in the blood that help carry oxygen to the entire body.
Renal: Refers to the kidney.
Rejection: When the body tries to get rid of a transplanted organ or tissue by making antibodies.
Semipermiable: A membrane with many very tiny holes (cannot be seen by the naked eye). Only particles smaller than the size of the tiny holes can pass through the membrane.
Sodium: A mineral, usually known as salt, that helps maintain the right amount of body fluid.
Subclavian catheter: A "Y" shaped tube. The bottom of the “Y” is placed in a large vein behind the collarbone leading to the right side of the heart.
Thrill: The vibration or "buzz" felt as blood flows through a fistula or graft.
Tissue typing: Blood tests used to match the donor and recipient before a transplant.
Transplantation: Surgery to place a donated organ from one person into another person.
Ultrafiltration: Process used to remove extra water from the body during dialysis.
Urea: A waste product from the breakdown of protein in the body.
Uremia: The build up of waste products in the blood due to poor kidney function that causes a person to feel sick.
Ureter: One of 2 tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
Urethra: The tube that empties urine from the bladder.
Veins: Blood vessels that carry blood from body tissues toward the heart.
Waste products: Substances not needed by the body that are created by the breakdown of food and normal body functions.