Dialysis Treatment Options

Dialysis Treatment Options

Dialysis is a treatment that removes excess fluid and waste from your body when your own kidneys aren’t able to do their job effectively. In the last stage of chronic kidney disease, your kidneys have lost about 85% to 90% of their function. People who develop end-stage kidney failure need dialysis or kidney transplantation to live. 

Photo of at home dialysis machine

What Does Dialysis Do?

Dialysis doesn’t “fix” the kidneys. It works like a kidney outside the body to remove wastes and fluids from the blood. Dialysis helps keep the body in balance by doing the job of healthy kidneys. It is important to find the dialysis treatment that is right for you, based on your physical, emotional, and lifestyle needs. 

Hemodialysis

Hemodialysis uses an artificial kidney (hemodialyzer) to clean your blood outside of the body. It filters excess fluid and waste from your blood. 

To get blood from your body into the artificial kidney, the doctor makes an access (or entrance) into your blood vessels. The access is created during minor surgery. 

FAQs About Hemodialysis

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis (PD) cleans blood inside your body. The inside lining of your abdomen (peritoneal cavity) acts as a natural filter and is called the peritoneum, or peritoneal membrane. Before PD treatment, a catheter is placed into the peritoneal cavity for access to the peritoneal membrane. 

During treatment, the peritoneal cavity is filled with a dialysis fluid through the catheter. The fluid stays there for a period of time. Then the fluid, which now contains the filtered waste products, is drained out through the catheter and discarded. The process of putting fluid in and draining fluid out is called an “exchange.” One exchange takes about 20 to 30 minutes. 

Hemodialysis vs Peritoneal Dialysis Comparison

You doctor will help you decide what type of dialysis is best for you. Here is a comparison of what is involved with each dialysis option. 


Hemodialysis
(In center)
Hemodialysis
(At home)
Peritoneal
Dialysis (PD) 
Where? Dialysis center  At home  At home 
Time constraints?  Fixed schedule  Flexible  Flexible, can travel with PD equipment 
How often?  3 times a week  4 to 7 days a week  Every night 
How long for each treatment?  3 to 4 hours  3 to 4 hours  8 to 10 hours 
Access?  Catheter, fistula, or graft  Catheter, fistula, or graft  Catheter in belly 
Need storage space at home?   No  Yes Yes 
Considerations ?  Must travel to dialysis center; may interfere with work schedule  Must learn how to do it at home using needles   Must learn how to do it at home but no needles; can’t sleep with pets