STEVEN L. BELCHER, RN, MSN, MS ("Steve The Kidney Nurse") is the author of How to Survive Outpatient Dialysis: A Guide for Patients with Kidney Failure and the founder of the nonprofit Urban Kidney Alliance. (Glossary below)
Access: The point on the body where a needle or catheter is inserted.
Acute renal (REE-nul) failure: Sudden and temporary loss of kidney function.
Anuria (uh-NYOOR-ee-uh): A condition in which a person stops making urine.
Artificial Kidney: Another name for a dialyzer.
Biopsy: (BY-op-see): A procedure in which a tiny piece of a body part, such as the kidney is removed for examination.
Bladder: The balloon -shaped organ inside the pelvis that holds urine.
Blood urea (yoo-REE-uh) nitrogen (NY-truh-jen) BUN: A waste product in the blood that comes from the breakdown of food protein. The kidneys filter blood to remove urea. As kidney function decreases, the BUN level increases.
Catheter: A tube inserted through the skin into a blood vessel or cavity to draw out body fluid or infuse fluid. In peritoneal dialysis a catheter is used to infuse dialysis solution into the abdominal cavity and drain it out again.
Creatinine (Kree-AT-ih-nin): A waste product from meat protein in the diet and from the muscles of the body. Creatinine is removed from blood by the kidneys. As kidney disease progresses, the level of creatinine in the blood increases.
Creatinine Clearance: A test that measures how efficiently the kidneys remove creatinine and other waste from the blood. Low creatinine clearance indicates impaired kidney function.
Dialysis (dy-AL-ih-sis): The process of cleaning waste from the blood artificially. This job is normally done by the kidneys. If the kidneys fail, the blood must be cleaned artificially with special equipment. The two major forms of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal.
Dialyzer (DY-uh-LY-zur): A part of the hemodialysis machine. The dialyzer has two sections separated by a membrane. One section holds the dialysis solution. The other holds the patient’s blood.
Dry Weight: The ideal weight for a person after a hemodialysis treatment.The weight at which a person’s blood pressure is normal and no swelling exists because all excess fluid has been removed.
Edema (eh-DEE-muh): Swelling caused by too much fluid in the body.
Erythropoietin (eh-RITH-roh-POY-uh-tin): A hormone made by the kidneys to help form red blood cells. Lack of this hormone may lead to anemia.
Graft: In hemodialysis a vascular access is surgically created using a synthetic tube to connect an artery to a vein.
Kt/V (Kay-tee-over-vee): A measurement of dialysis dose. The measurement takes into account the efficiency of the dialyzer, the treatment time, and the total volume of urea in the body.
Nephrectomy (nef-REK-tuh-mee): Surgical removal of a kidney.
Nephrologist (nef-RAHL-oh-jist): A doctor who treats patients with kidney problems or hypertension.
Peritoneal (PEH-rih-tuh-NEE-ul) cavity: The space inside the lower abdomen but outside the internal organs.
Potassium (puh-TASS-ee-um): A mineral found in the body and in many foods.
Thrill: A vibration or buzz that can be felt in an arteriovenous fistula or graft, an indication that the access is healthy.
Urea (yoo-REE-uh): A waste product found in the blood and caused by the normal breakdown of protein in the liver. Urea is normally removed from the blood by the kidneys and then excreted in the urine. Urea accumulates in the body of people with renal failure.
Uremia (yoo-REE-meeare-uh): The illness associated with the buildup of urea in the blood because the kidneys are not working effectively. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, and mental confusion.
URR (Urea Reduction Ratio): A blood test that compares the amount of blood urea nitrogen before and after dialysis to measure the effectiveness if the dialysis dose.