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In end-stage renal disease, kidney functions can be replaced only by dialysis or by  kidney transplantation. See the Transplant section for more information about transplants. There are two types of dialysis (1) hemodialysis and (2) peritoneal dialysis.


Hemodialysis involves circulation of blood through a filter on a dialysis machine. Blood is cleansed of waste products and excess water. The acid levels and the concentration of various minerals such as sodium and potassium in the blood are normalized. The blood is then returned to the body.

Long-term dialysis requires access to a blood  vessel so that the machine has a way to remove and return blood  to the body. This may be in the form of a dialysis catheter or an arteriovenous fistula or graft.

A catheter may be either temporary or permanent. These catheters are either placed in the neck or the groin into a large blood  vessel. These catheters are prone to infection and may also cause blood  vessels to clot or narrow.


The preferred access for hemodialysis is an arteriovenous fistula wherein an artery is directly joined to a vein. The vein takes two to four months to enlarge and mature before it can be used for dialysis. Once matured, two needles are placed into the vein for dialysis. One needle is used to draw blood  and run through the dialysis machine. The second needle is to return the cleansed blood .

An arteriovenous graft is placed in patients who have small veins or in whom a fistula has failed to develop. The graft is made of artificial material and the dialysis needles are inserted into the graft directly.

These venous access devices usually can be placed with local anesthesia on an outpatient basis.

Hemodialysis typically takes three to five hours and is needed three times a week.

You will need to travel to a dialysis center for hemodialysis.

Home hemodialysis is possible in some situations. A care partner is needed to assist you with the dialysis treatments. A family member or close friend are the usual options, though occasionally patients may hire a professional to assist with dialysis. Home hemodialysis may be performed as traditional three times a week treatments, long nocturnal (overnight) hemodialysis, or short daily hemodialysis. Daily hemodialysis and long nocturnal hemodialysis offer advantages in quality of life and better control of  high blood pressure, anemia , and bone disease.


Peritoneal dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis utilizes the lining membrane (peritoneum) of the abdomen as a filter to clean blood and remove excess fluid. A catheter is implanted into the abdomen by a minor surgical procedure. Peritoneal dialysis may be performed manually or by using a machine to perform the dialysis at night.

About 2 to 3 liters of dialysis fluid are infused into the abdominal cavity through this catheter. This fluid contains substances that pull wastes and excess water out of neighboring tissues.

The fluid is allowed to dwell for two to several hours before being drained, taking the unwanted wastes and water with it.

The fluid typically needs to be exchanged four to five times a day.

Peritoneal dialysis offers much more freedom compared to hemodialysis since patients do not need to come to a dialysis center for their treatment. You can carry out many of your usual activities while undergoing this treatment. This may be the preferable therapy for children.

Most patients are candidates for both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. There are little differences in outcomes between the two procedures. Your physician may recommend one kind of dialysis over the other based on your medical and surgical history. It is best to choose your modality of dialysis after understanding both procedures and matching them to your life style, daily activities, schedule, distance from the dialysis unit, support system, and personal preference.


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