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Kidney Disease News and Research

The Latest Kidney Disease News And Research

Kidney Disease research is being done every day to assist the over 37 million adults in the United States that suffer from kidney disease. The latest in kidney disease research and news indicates advancements and changes in the treatment of kidney disease that can exponentially benefit those who suffer from kidney disease.

Midwest Nephrology adapts and honors advancements in research. Our team of providers diligently research treatments and new practices to provide our patients with the best and most advanced care. A few of the most recent items published include research on Aldosterone worsening Kidney Disease, experimentation with changing Kidney Transplant Blood Type, as well as studies involving Pediatric Neuropsychiatric conditions.

The Latest Kidney Disease News And Research


Aldosterone, a hormone produced by the triangular adrenal glands, is a crucial, salt-conserving hormone. In a nearly 10-year observational study, researchers analyzed data from 3,680 people with chronic kidney disease. Those with elevated levels of aldosterone had a higher risk of serious kidney disease progression during the study period. This means they are more likely to lose half of their kidney function, begin dialysis treatment, or develop end-stage kidney disease.

You may be wondering how aldosterone is linked to kidney disease. For someone that is dehydrated or has low blood pressure, this hormone can help conserve water and salt, but if the levels of aldosterone are consistently present at a high concentration within the body, it can cause kidney damage. When aldosterone is constantly at a high level, it can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), which can then lead to damage to the kidneys and heart.

Kidney Specialist Ashish Verma, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine highlighted the drug, Finerenone, a nonsteroidal drug approved by the FDA for people with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Verma said that Finerenone can help prevent kidney disease, or its progression in people without diabetes, with a lower risk of causing dangerously high potassium levels than traditional therapies such as spironolactone or eplerenone.


In a ground-breaking discovery, researchers at the University of Cambridge have successfully altered the blood type of three donor kidneys. Professor Mike Nicholson and PhD student Serena MacMillion used a normothermic perfusion (a device that connects with a human kidney to pass oxygenated blood through the organ to better preserve it for future use) to flush blood infused with an enzyme, through a deceased kidney. This enzyme removed the blood type markers that line the blood vessels of the kidney, resulting in the kidney being converted to the universal O type. Changing the blood type to the universal O will allow for more transplants to take place.

The Cambridge team will now need to determine how a newly altered O-type kidney will react to a patient’s usual blood type in their normal supply. With the use of a perfusion machine, this process can be simulated before doing so on a patient. With the perfusion machine, they will take the new O-type kidneys, and introduce different blood types to observe how they react.

One of the biggest restrictions to a donated kidney transplant is that the blood type must be compatible. Antigens and markers on your cells are either A or B, and your body produces antigens against the markers that you do not have. With the discovery of altering blood types, patients will have easier access to kidney transplants compatible with their blood type.


Early genomic testing could help identify an increasing number of genomic variants associated with intellectual disabilities, and the likelihood of those children developing neurodevelopmental or mental health conditions. This allows for intervention as soon as possible.

For children presenting developmental delays, or intellectual disabilities, exome or genome sequence analysis is recommended. Previously, there has been a limitation on rare genomic variants and the long-term outcomes for those children. The existing research is limited to small sample sizes or portions of children with moderate to severe disabilities. A recent study published in The Lancet Psychiatry aimed to evaluate the influence of environmental and genetic factors on the prognosis.

This study is the largest to date and measures the impact of rare genetic variants associated with intellectual disability. It was found that the children are likely to develop other neurodevelopmental or mental health conditions. An identifiable genetic cause was found to amplify the likelihood of neurodevelopmental conditions, as well as behavioral difficulties. Physical health problems were also prevalent in the study, reporting things such as disturbed sleep, motor or movement disorders, fine motor problems, and cerebral palsy.


Have any questions or concerns? Our dedicated team of physicians and certified staff are here to help answer all your questions and can help set up an appointment for you or a loved one. Contact Midwest Nephrology Associates for more information on Kidney Cancer and for help finding a treatment that works best for you.

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Common Signs of Kidney Disease

Common Signs of Kidney Disease

Common Signs of Kidney Disease

Over 37 million adults in the United States are living with kidney disease and many of them are without a diagnosis. This is partially due to people assigning common symptoms of kidney disease to other ailments or conditions.

The only way to know whether you have kidney disease is to be evaluated by a medical professional. That is where the experts at Midwest Nephrology come in. They can help you reach a diagnosis and prescribe treatment, or can even help you identify another cause of your symptoms. Contact one of our clinics for more information and to schedule an appointment with a professional.

Common Signs of Kidney Disease


Kidney disease symptoms tend to show up in later stages or when the kidney is failing. If you experience the following symptoms or are at risk due to high blood pressure, diabetes, or have a family history of kidney disease, we recommend that you get tested at one of our many clinic locations.

When it comes to warning signs, some common symptoms may include bladder issues, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, dry skin, difficulty concentrating, decreased appetite, cramping, back pain, and high blood pressure.

Feeling the increased need to urinate, especially at night, can be a sign of kidney disease. When the kidney filters are damaged this can cause a high need to urinate.

The appearance of urine can change due to kidney disease. Seeing blood or foamy urine due to poor kidney filters and increased protein are both signs that you may have kidney disease. If you have an abnormal urine test or abnormal levels of phosphorus, calcium, or vitamin D in your urine, this can lead to cramping symptoms. Poor filtering can cause various imbalances that may show up on urine tests and help reveal a more serious issue.

Kidney issues can cause issues with filtering out toxins and impurities in the blood causing you to feel tired or weak. This can lead to shortness of breath due to your kidneys not removing enough fluids. Excess fluids can then build up in your lungs causing shortness of breath and breathing problems.

Kidney disease will prevent toxins from leaving the blood, which can cause issues with sleep. Obesity and sleep apnea are also more common in those who suffer from kidney disease.

When kidneys can no longer maintain the proper amount of minerals and nutrients in your blood, you may experience mineral and bone disease causing you to itch and have dry skin.

Someone with kidney disease may experience swelling in their hands, legs, or feet. This is because kidney disease can affect sodium retention levels, and high levels of sodium can cause swelling in the hand, legs, and feet areas.

Similarly to fatigue, poor filtering of toxins and impurities in the blood can cause issues with concentration and focus.

Poor filtering and a buildup of toxins can decrease your overall appetite.

Impaired or diseased kidneys can result in electrolyte imbalances like lower calcium causing cramping. Some people with kidney disease may also experience lower back pain and discomfort around where the kidneys are located. This may also be due to infection associated with the disease.

Poor filtering and excess fluid and sodium can cause you to experience high blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure can also damage blood vessels in the kidneys and can make the disease worse.


At Midwest Nephrology, our dedicated team of providers and certified staff are ready to assist you in diagnosing and treating your kidney concerns. Contact Midwest Nephrology if you have any questions or are looking for a consultation today.

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Male doctor using a laptop, sitting at his desk

Role Of A Nurse Practitioner

Role Of A Nurse Practitioner

One of the most important resources you’ll have in the fight against Kidney Disease is a Nurse Practitioner. These registered nurses are experienced and ready to help you throughout your kidney treatment journey. From the moment you are diagnosed to planning out your treatment plan and future kidney maintenance needs, you’ll be working side by side with a Nurse Practitioner.

Male doctor using a laptop, sitting at his desk


Nurse Practitioners are registered nurses who have advanced training in diagnosing and treating a variety of illnesses. Unlike regular Nurses, Nurse Practitioners have the ability to also prescribe medications. While you generally only see your physician for an annual check-up or follow-up appointments, you’ll be working closely with your Nurse Practitioner to find a treatment path that works best for you and your individual needs.

These highly qualified and experienced healthcare workers will help you find the right balance to help with prevention, wellness, and education while working in tandem with your physician. And when it comes to Kidney Disease and treating it, you’ll be working with a specialized Nurse Practitioner who has experience in the field and can help guide you throughout your individual treatment journey.


Yes, Nurse Practitioners are essential to your kidney treatment in part to their ability to prescribe medication. These nurses have gone through rigorous training and passed a special education program that grants them a national certification that enables them to prescribe the required medication to patients.


Since all patients are different and require different prescriptions, Nurse Practitioners work together with you and your doctor to review your individual medication dosing and interval needs. They will constantly review any and all possible allergies, medication history, and side effects with a patient in order to customize your experience throughout your kidney treatment process.

Whether you were recently diagnosed with kidney disease, are in the early stages of kidney treatment, or recently had a transplant; Nurse Practitioners are here to help. Throughout your kidney disease journey, different medication is needed to help ensure your best possible day-to-day life.


At Midwest Nephrology, our dedicated team of providers and certified staff are ready to assist you in diagnosing and treating your kidney concerns. Contact Midwest Nephrology if you have any questions or are looking for a consultation today.

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Human kidney with highlighted kidney stones, colorful medically

What You Should Know About Kidney Stones

What You Should Know About Kidney Stones

Information is one of the best tools you can utilize when fighting a kidney stone. The experts at Midwest Nephrology Associates are here to teach you about what causes kidney stones as well as how to deal with them. Whether you or a loved one is dealing with the discomfort and pain a kidney stone can cause, our dedicated team is here to help answer all of your questions.

To start with, it’s important to understand what your kidney’s jobs are. Kidneys are vital to your health and well-being, filtering out waste, extra water, and minerals from your bloodstream. The filtered waste your body doesn’t need is turned into urine which passes through two thin tubes (ureters) into your bladder which you’ll later discard when using the restroom.

Human kidney with highlighted kidney stones, colorful medically


Individuals with kidney issues may not properly filter minerals, which causes renal calculi (kidney stones) to form in a variety of shapes and sizes. This occurs due to minerals such as calcium and oxalate oversaturating your urine and creating crystallization in your urine.

Kidney stones can occur due to a wide range of circumstances. Different types of kidney stones include calcium stones, uric acid stones, struvite stones, and cystine stones. While the most common is caused by an abundance of calcium oxalate left in your urine, others can occur due to having high levels of uric acid, a urinary tract infection, or a genetic build-up of amino acid cystine.

While some kidney stone disorders can be genetic, others can be caused by poor diet and exercise, dehydration, and other medications that affect your kidney’s filtration. Staying hydrated and reducing your salt intake can help you reduce the likelihood of a kidney stone.

While not all kidney stones are painful or even noticeable; if you’re experiencing pain, nausea, or notice blood in your urine you should contact your physician. Together, we’ll determine the best course of action to reduce your pain and help you prevent possible future issues.


At Midwest Nephrology, our dedicated team of providers and certified staff are ready to assist you in diagnosing and treating your kidney concerns. Contact Midwest Nephrology if you have any questions or are looking for a consultation today.

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National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month. Orange Color Ribbon Isolated On Transparent Background. Vector Design Template For Poster.

National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month

National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month

Kidney Cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States. According to federal estimates, there were more than 76,000 new diagnoses and 13,780 deaths in 2021. That’s why March is Kidney Cancer Awareness Month. During this time we encourage everyone to learn more about Kidney Cancer and help spread awareness of common warning signs, prevention, and treatment.

National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month


Reducing or eliminating certain risk factors in your daily life can help you fight Kidney Cancer. Stopping smoking or the misuse of certain pain medicines are common factors that can lead to Kidney Cancer. Additional common Kidney Cancer risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Workplace exposures
  • Gender (twice as common in men)
  • Race (African Americans are more at risk)
  • Individuals with advanced kidney disease

Beyond smoking, diet, blood pressure, and pain medicines, Kidney Cancer can occur more commonly in some genetic conditions than in others. If your family has a history of Kidney Cancer, Hippel-Lindau disease, or kidney issues; your risk of developing Kidney Cancer is much higher and you should contact our team for regular checkups. In addition to genetic and hereditary risk factors, people who have or had certain diseases may also be at higher risk of developing Kidney Cancer:

  • Hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma
  • Hereditary leiomyoma-renal cell carcinoma
  • Birt-Hogg-Dube (BHD) syndrome
  • Cowden syndrome
  • Tuberous sclerosis


Depending on the severity of your Kidney Cancer, a common treatment for Kidney Cancer is surgery to remove all or part of the affected organ. Some individuals may also need chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to destroy unseen cancer cells that may remain following the procedure. Individuals with more severe Kidney Cancer may require molecularly targeted therapy or an immunotherapeutic to further destroy unseen cancer cells.


Have any questions or concerns? Our dedicated team of physicians and certified staff are here to help answer all your questions and can help set up an appointment for you or a loved one. Contact Midwest Nephrology Associates for more information on Kidney Cancer and for help finding a treatment that works best for you.

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Woman dietitian in medical uniform

Role of Dietician for Kidney Health

Roll of Dietician for Kidney Health

A renal dietitian plays a vital role in maintaining kidney health. Your diet can positively and negatively impact your kidneys. They can help you with a diet plan that has foods you can enjoy. Just like other doctors, it is important to consult with them before adjusting your diet to ensure you are the healthiest you can be.

Woman dietitian in medical uniform


Renal dietitians are experts in diet and nutrition specifically for people with kidney disease. These experts will regularly check in on you, reviewing your nutrition, lab work, medicines, and weight to ensure your kidney functions at its best possible ability.


A renal dietitian will help monitor and educate you on your kidney health, working with you to help find a diet plan that works best for your lifestyle. Your dietitian will walk you through specific nutrients, protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals you can consume and how much you can consume.


It is very important to make healthy food and fluid choices every day when you have kidney disease. Consuming too many minerals like phosphorus or potassium in your diet can further damage your kidneys and lead to kidney failure.


Yes, if you’re in the early stages of kidney disease, your dietitian can recommend how to eat healthy for your stage of kidney disease to help slow down or stop the progression to kidney failure.


  • How much fluid you should consume each day
  • Eating a low-protein diet,
  • Limiting salt, potassium, phosphorous, and electrolytes
  • Possibly changing your medication


Yes, it is vital after your kidney transplant to follow your dietitian’s guidelines to help keep your new kidney healthy. They will ensure your body is acclimating properly to your new kidney and medication. Your diet may change to help you either gain or lose weight, maintain healthy blood pressure, and allow your body proper time to heal.


Have any questions or concerns? Our dedicated team of physicians and certified staff are here to help answer all your questions and can help set up an appointment for you or a loved one. Contact Midwest Nephrology Associates for more information on Kidney Cancer and for help finding a treatment that works best for you.

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Raspberry, blackberry and blueberry on the wooden board

Foods That Help Boost Kidney Function

Foods That Help Boost Kidney Function

Our kidneys are responsible for helping to clear waste products from the blood and remove them from the body in the form of urine; they also help balance electrolyte and fluid levels, and play a critical role in maintaining good health.

Raspberry, blackberry and blueberry on the wooden board

When dealing with kidney disease, it is important to focus on the foods that help boost kidney function, and reduce the foods that may stress or damage our kidneys.

While we all need fruits, veggies, fats, grains, and proteins, some foods can be more beneficial than others. And even with the best of intentions, there can be too much of a good thing, so be sure to talk with one of our providers about your specific needs before making changes to your diet.

To help you on your way, we have compiled a list of kidney-friendly foods to help you get started


Fruit is high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, and can be a low-calorie way to satisfy your sweet tooth. The following fruits are especially helpful, as they contain the best combinations of nutrients to help keep your kidneys functioning properly.

  • Apples
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries (dried or fresh)
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pineapple
  • Red Grapes


Vegetables can be a great source of nutrients, including plant-based protein and fiber. Remember that some dark leafy greens may be too high in potassium for you, so your doctor may limit the quantity you eat.

  • Arugula*
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Fresh Herbs
  • Garlic
  • Leafy Greens such as:
    • Chard
    • Collard Greens
    • Kale
    • Spinach
  • Onions
  • Radishes
  • Red bell peppers
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Turnips
  • Shiitake Mushrooms⁺


Whole grains are a good source of iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and a variety of antioxidants. They can help regulate blood pressure, cholesterol, bowel regularity, and blood glucose levels. Buy whole grains rather than refined grains (such as refined white rice) since much of the nutritional value is lost in the refining process.

Try toasting the grains before cooking to bring out a richer, more nutty flavor. You can add salt-free seasonings such as cumin or chili powder for a savory side dish, or add a little peanut butter and honey to your breakfast oatmeal!

  • Bulgar wheat
  • Buckwheat - whole grain without the phosphorus
  • Quinoa - higher in phosphorus and potassium than refined grains, so check with your care provider
  • Oatmeal - higher in phosphorus and potassium than refined grains, so check with your care provide


Protein helps your body to fight infection, build muscle and repair tissue. The amount of protein you need depends on your body size, the type of kidney problem you have, and the amount of protein in your urine. Ask your care provider how much protein is best for you.

  • Egg whites - get all of the protein you need, without the phosphorus you don’t!
  • Fish such as Sea Bass - consume small portions to keep your phosphorus levels in check
  • Skinless chicken - pre-made roasted or rotisserie chicken tends to be high in sodium and phosphorus, so stick with home-cooked chicken


Most nuts are too high in phosphorus for people following a kidney-friendly diet, but macadamia nuts are the exception. They are packed with healthy fats, B vitamins, magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese, but lower in phosphorus than other popular choices such as peanuts and almonds; macadamia nuts are also a source of healthy fats and protein.


There are 2 types of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats can help reduce the amount of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increase the amount of “good” cholesterol (HDL) in the body.

  • Avocado
  • Fatty fish such as salmon
  • Olives
  • Olive oil - high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat high in anti-inflammatory properties; can be used in salad dressing or cooking


Have any questions or concerns? Our dedicated team of physicians and certified staff are here to help answer all your questions and can help set up an appointment for you or a loved one. Contact Midwest Nephrology Associates for more information on Kidney Cancer and for help finding a treatment that works best for you.

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Nephrology Nurses Week

Nephrology Nurses Week

Nephrology Nurses Week

Last week Midwest Nephrology proudly celebrated Nephrology Nurses Week. September 12-18 we thanked, honored, and recognized our highly dedicated members of the medical community.

Created by the American Nephrology Nurses Association marks this occasion during the second week of September. During this time, we like to highlight and take the time to thank all our nephrology nurses for their life-saving work. This year, the theme was “Nephrology Nurses Aspire to Excellence.”

Nephrology Nurses Week


As one of the most diverse nursing specialties practiced today, nephrology nurses care for patients of all ages who have or are at risk for kidney disease. Caring for patients with kidney disease requires nurses to be highly skilled; Nephrology nurses use their vision, knowledge, and skills to improve patient outcomes.

We couldn’t succeed in our mission statement, without the hard work of nephrology nurses by our side.

Our mission is:

“To provide quality, compassionate, and individualized care to acute and chronic patients affected by kidney disease and to assist their families in dealing with the treatment of the disease”

Our team has helped provide the best care for our patients and their families by utilizing the skills and contributions of all staff members. It’s in large part thanks to each nephrology nurse and their multi-skilled talents that we can continually deliver the best outcomes and highest quality service.

At Midwest Nephrology Associates we have been serving the greater Southeastern Wisconsin area together with dedicated nephrology nurses since 1989. We have a distinct commitment to serve the community and its people with the most up-to-date facilities, convenient locations, and the finest physicians. Contact Midwest Nephrology for more information on kidney treatment, how to thank your nephrology nurse, or to set up an appointment today!


Have any questions or concerns? Our dedicated team of physicians and certified staff are here to help answer all your questions and can help set up an appointment for you or a loved one. Contact Midwest Nephrology Associates for more information on Kidney Cancer and for help finding a treatment that works best for you.

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Busy surgeons over the operating table

Surgery Center Expectations and Preparation

Surgery Center Expectations and Preparation

Getting ready for an upcoming surgery can be stressful, clear up any concerns you may have with help from the experts at Midwest Nephrology. We’ll make sure you are coming in for your surgery confident and well informed. Learn more about what to expect before your surgery, from the days leading up to your surgery to the day of and day after your surgery.

Busy surgeons over the operating table


Be prepared for a quick and convenient surgery that should only last 45 minutes to 1 hour. Feel free to bring a family member with you for support and ride home after your surgery. You can’t go home by yourself, even in a taxi or by van transport. So make sure to have a family member or friend available to pick you up post-surgery.

Before you arrive for your surgery, a registered nurse will ask you questions, walk you through your schedule, and can help clear up any additional questions you may have on the day. Make sure to notify your assigned registered nurse if you are taking any anticoagulants (also called blood thinners) such as Aspirin, Plavix, Coumadin (Warfarin). They will check with your kidney specialist to see if you need to stop your medicine and if it’s safe for you to stop these medicines before your procedure.

Also, make sure to tell the registered nurse if you are allergic to contrast dye. Once all their questions are answered, the registered nurse will ask your doctor to order medicine for you to take the day before your procedure. Once the medicine is ordered, you may need to pick it up at your local pharmacy and will be instructed when to take this medicine.

Make sure to bring all of your medicines and a list of all of your medicines with you to your procedure. Remember, don’t eat or drink anything 6 hours before your procedure. If you need to take medicine, take it with only a sip of water.


Once you arrive for your surgery, you’ll need to check-in. At this point, the doctor will explain the procedure and answer your questions. After fully understanding the procedure, the doctor will ask you to sign a consent form. Signing this form means you agree to have the procedure.

Leading up to your surgery, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown and you’ll be asked additional questions about your health and medicine history. After this point, the following will proceed:

  1. They will bring you into the procedure room and ask you to lie on a table with machines all around you. We connect you to a monitor that shows your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen level.
  2. The nurses may give you oxygen and medicine to help you relax.
  3. They will cover you with sterile (clean) drapes from your shoulders to your feet.
  4. The doctor places your fistula or graft arm out on a small table and cleans your skin. It may feel cold and wet.
  5. The doctor injects some medicine to numb the area they will check on your fistula or graft.
  6. Once your skin is numb, your doctor places a tiny catheter (tube) in your fistula or graft. This tube is similar to the needle used during dialysis. The doctor then injects contrast dye into the tube, so they can see what is happening to your fistula or graft on x-rays.
  7. If your fistula or graft has stopped working, your doctor may inject blood thinners into the tube.
  8. If they find a narrowing, your doctor puts a thin wire with a balloon at the end of it into the tube. When the balloon is inflated, it stretches the narrowing. You may feel some pressure when this happens.


It is important that you relax for the rest of the day. You can start to eat and drink as usual. Make sure to follow all your doctor’s and specialist’s orders and recommendations. They’ll instruct you with any additional post-surgery needs like medication, wound cleaning, or pain management advice. Make sure that for the following 24 hours after your procedure you:

  • DON’T drive or use any heavy machines
  • DON’T make any legal or financial decisions
  • DON’T sign any papers, don’t drink alcohol to take any medicines that make you drowsy (for example, sedatives or tranquilizers)
  • DON’T lift anything heavier than a 2-liter pop bottle
  • DON’T wear tight clothes or jewelry that will press on your wound

After the 24 hours are up, you can return to your usual activities. You may have some pain, mild swelling, and bruising at your puncture site. This is normal and should improve in a few days. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact our team of specialized kidney doctors who are ready to help.


Have any questions or concerns? Our dedicated team of physicians and certified staff are here to help answer all your questions and can help set up an appointment for you or a loved one. Contact Midwest Nephrology Associates for more information on Kidney Cancer and for help finding a treatment that works best for you.

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What To Expect During Your First Dialysis Treatment

What To Expect During Your First Dialysis Treatment

Learning you need to start dialysis can be a scary and big change in your life. The challenge of a new routine and entering a dialysis center can also be overwhelming. We have some general information and tips for making dialysis a little less painful transition in your life. Starting and staying with dialysis treatment can help you feel better and assist you with continuing to do the things you love.


  • Follow your dialysis treatment schedule—and take your medications exactly as prescribed by your nephrologist (kidney doctor).
  • Be engaged in your dialysis treatment—and communicate with your treatment team about any changes in your health or how you feel. You know yourself best, so your input helps ensure that your treatment fits your life.
  • Communicating with your family about your treatment is essential—keeping your family and friends in the loop regarding your condition and dialysis treatment plan will assist with much-needed support from your family and friends along the way.


On the days you have dialysis, you’ll be sitting in a dialysis chair for about four hours, so you’ll want to wear something comfortable. You may feel cold during the treatment since your blood is circulating outside of your body. Warm socks, a sweatshirt or sweater, and perhaps a hat can help you keep warm. Take note of where your dialysis access is located. If you have a graft or fistula in your arm, be sure your sleeves are loose enough to roll up. If you have a catheter in your chest, be sure to wear a shirt that opens in the front.

Find out ahead of time if you can bring a blanket and pillow. In addition to warm clothes, you may also want to bring a book or any other project that you’d like to work on while you are dialyzing. Since many centers have televisions, you may want to bring earphones so you can hear the sound. Also, check with your center to see if it has internet access. If so, you may want to bring your laptop.


Reading, watching television, listening to music, paying bills, making your grocery list, catching up on work and sleeping are just a few of the things you can do while you’re dialyzing. You can also visit with the other people dialyzing around you. Many people on dialysis enjoy going to a dialysis center for treatment because it gives them time to create friendships with other people who are going through the same things they are. Depending on your center, there may also be times when a staff member puts in a video for patients to watch or leads a group game such as Bingo for everyone who wishes to play during dialysis.


When you enter your dialysis center for the first time, you’ll generally be greeted by a receptionist who will take you to meet the facility administrator or manager of the dialysis center and other members of your dialysis health care team.

Your health care team consists of renal professionals including nurses, technicians, a registered dietitian, and a social worker who specializes in treating dialysis patients. On your first visit, you’ll fill out paperwork and insurance forms, and you’ll need to bring your insurance card and driver’s license so copies can be made. You’ll also have plenty of time to ask questions you may have about the forms you’re completing, the dialysis center, your health care team, the dialysis process, or anything else that comes to mind. Once you are done filling out the paperwork, you will sit in the waiting room until your dialysis nurse or technician calls you back to get ready for your treatment.


Next, you’ll meet one of your dialysis nurses who will weigh you before you start the treatment. Then, you’ll wash your arm if this is where your vascular access is located. Your dialysis nurse or technician will show you how to wash your vascular access until you know exactly how to do it. Once you know how you will do this step yourself. When your access is clean, you’ll be escorted to a treatment chair that has been prepared for you. Every chair is cleaned thoroughly before each new patient sits down. When you get to your chair, the nurse will check your standing and seated blood pressure, listen to your lungs, take your temperature and check your heart rate and other vital signs. Then, you’ll have a few minutes to get settled in your chair with your blanket and pillow, if you have them. Each chair generally reclines and has a tray on the side to set the things you brought with you so everything is easy to reach.


Once you are in your chair, you will be connected to the dialysis machine. If you have a fistula or graft, you will be connected through your vascular access with two needles connected to the tubing. Your nurse will wipe your vascular access with a solution to kill any bacteria. Then, two needles will be used to connect you to the machine. An arterial needle will take your blood through the dialyzer or artificial kidney, while a venous needle will return your blood to your body. You can ask for numbing medicine to be put on your access before you get the needles inserted if the needle sticks bother you. Most people get used to the needles and are not bothered by them after a while. If you have a catheter in your chest, the dialysis tubing will be connected to your catheter.

Once you are connected to the dialysis machine, your technician will start the dialysis treatment. The machine will move your blood through the dialyzer or artificial kidney to be cleaned and then returned to your body. If you’re doing treatment during the day, the process generally lasts four hours; if you’re doing in-center nocturnal dialysis treatment, you’ll be dialyzing for about six to eight hours while you sleep.


During a four-hour dialysis treatment, your blood will go through the dialyzer 15 to 20 times, and only about 1-1/2 cups of your blood will be outside of your body at any time.

While you should not feel pain or discomfort during dialysis treatment, let a member of your health care team know right away if you feel dizzy or experience cramping. Dizziness, nausea, and muscle cramps are potential side effects of low blood pressure which may happen if you reach your target weight (dry weight) and fluid is still being removed or if fluid is removed too fast. Your renal dietitian will advise you on how much fluid to drink each day and remind you which foods count as fluid. It’s important to stick to your daily fluid limits to avoid gaining too much fluid weight between treatments as trying to remove too much fluid can contribute to low blood pressure and cramping during dialysis.


One of the most obvious things you may notice during your first few treatments is the sound of alarms that go off from time to time. The dialysis machine continuously monitors the pressures created by your blood inside the blood tubing and dialyzer. It also monitors your blood pressure, blood flow, treatment time, and the mixture and temperature of the dialysate, the solution inside the dialyzer that cleans your blood. If any of these measurements go out of range or when the treatment is finished, the machine sounds different alarms to alert your nurse.


When your treatment is finished, the staff will use a saline solution to rinse the blood that is still in the tubing and dialyzer back into your body. Your technician will then shut off the dialysis machine, take out the needles and disconnect you from the machine. You or the technician will apply pressure to your access site to prevent bleeding and apply dressings on each needle insertion site. Before you leave, your nurse will take your blood pressure and weigh you one more time. This post-treatment weight will be used for the next treatment to help determine how much fluid to remove. After that, you’re free to go. If any unexpected bleeding occurs, put pressure on the site and notify your dialysis center or kidney doctor right away.


If in-center hemodialysis doesn’t fit your lifestyle, there are other dialysis treatment options. Talk to your doctor to see if another dialysis option can work for you. If you’d like to do your dialysis treatments in a dialysis center with nurses nearby to assist you, in-center self-care hemodialysis may be right for you. If you’d like to do your dialysis treatments in a center while you are sleeping, in-center nocturnal hemodialysis may be right for you.

It’s important to note that not all treatments work for all patients. Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in trying a certain type of dialysis treatment.


Have any questions or concerns? Our dedicated team of physicians and certified staff are here to help answer all your questions and can help set up an appointment for you or a loved one. Contact Midwest Nephrology Associates for more information on Kidney Cancer and for help finding a treatment that works best for you.

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