Information about Dialysis

Man receiving dialysis treatment


The two major forms of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

Hemodialysis uses a special filter called a dialyzer that functions as an artificial kidney to clean a person's blood. The dialyzer is a canister connected to the hemodialysis machine. During treatment, the blood travels through tubes into the dialyzer, which filters out wastes, extra salt, and extra water. Then the cleaned blood flows through another set of tubes back into the body. The hemodialysis machine monitors blood flow and removes wastes from the dialyzer.

Hemodialysis is usually performed at a dialysis center three times per week for 3 to 4 hours. A small but growing number of clinics offer home hemodialysis in addition to standard in-clinic treatments. The patient first learns to do treatments at the clinic, working with a dialysis nurse.

Daily home hemodialysis is done 5 to 7 days per week for 2 to 3 hours at a time. Nocturnal dialysis can be performed for 8 hours at night while a person sleeps. Research as to which is the best method for dialysis is under way, but preliminary data indicate that daily dialysis schedules such as short daily dialysis or nocturnal dialysis may be the best form of dialysis therapy.

Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis

In peritoneal dialysis, a fluid called dialysis solution is put into the abdomen. This fluid captures the waste products from a person's blood. After a few hours when the fluid is nearly saturated with wastes, the fluid is drained through a catheter. Then, a fresh bag of fluid is dripped into the abdomen to continue the cleansing process. Patients can perform peritoneal dialysis themselves. Patients using continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) change fluid four times a day. Another form of peritoneal dialysis, called continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD), can be performed at night with a machine that drains and refills the abdomen automatically.