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Nutr Clin Pract. 2005 Apr;20(2):192-201.

Electrolytes and fluid management in hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

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  • 1Department of Nephrology (Medicine), School of Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Suite B, 3034 Fish Hatchery Road, Madison, WI 53713-3125, USA.


The kidney is a complex and vital organ, regulating the electrolyte and fluid status of the human body. As hemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD) are forms of renal replacement therapy and not an actual kidney, they do not possess the same physiologic regulation of both fluid and electrolytes. Precise regulation of fluid and electrolytes in the HD and PD population remains a constant challenge. In this review, fluid status of both HD and PD will be examined, as well as sodium, potassium, phosphorous, and calcium. Each electrolyte will be analyzed by its physiological significance, the complications that arise when a proper balance cannot be maintained, and methods to correct these imbalances. An overview of the fluid compartments and volume of distribution within the body will be discussed. Ultrafiltration, a modality used in both forms of renal replacement therapy, will be defined, along with its impact on fluid status. Fluid assessment will be addressed, along with proper maintenance of fluid homeostasis. By having an understanding of the pathophysiology behind the fluid and electrolyte abnormalities that occur in end-stage renal disease, one can direct proper management with medications, diet, and alterations in dialysis to provide patients with the most optimal form of renal replacement therapy available.

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