Authored by paulking


Describes the different types of dialysis and why they are necessary.

What is dialysis? Our bodies have two main organs that filter harmful chemicals from our blood. The first is the liver and the second is the kidney.

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs that filter blood and make urine. Most people have two, but we need only one to survive.

Some people may have diseases that affect their kidneys. If their kidneys stop working, they need dialysis. This filters the blood and keeps it clean.

Why does a person need dialysis? When both kidneys stop working, the body has no way of keeping the blood clean and getting rid of wastes. This is called kidney failure. People who have kidney failure need dialysis to survive.

There are two main types of dialysis:

Hemodialysis: Your blood runs into a large machine that filters the blood and returns it to your body.
Peritoneal dialysis: A tube called a catheter is put in your belly, and special fluid is used to filter your blood.

How is a dialysis performed? Hemodialysis involves using a large machine to directly filter the blood. You first need an access point where the machine can take your blood and return it to you. Surgery may be performed on the arms or legs to insert grafts or fistulas. These connect to blood vessels and allow the dialysis machine to access your blood. People without grafts or fistulas use a catheter that goes directly into a blood vessel. Once your access point is ready to use, you're ready for dialysis.

Hemodialysis allows your blood to go into a machine that filters it, then returns clean blood to your body. It can take several hours. Most people go three or four times a week to a dialysis center for treatment.

Peritoneal dialysis is completely different from hemodialysis. A soft tube called a peritoneal catheter is put in your belly. This requires a simple operation.

With peritoneal dialysis, dialysis solution is put through the catheter into your belly. The inside walls of your belly are lined with a membrane called the peritoneum, which allows waste products and extra fluid to pass from your blood into the dialysis solution. The solution contains a sugar called dextrose, which pulls wastes and extra fluid into the abdominal cavity. These wastes and fluid then leave your body when the dialysis solution is drained. The period the dialysis solution is in your abdomen is called the dwell time. Different types of PD have different schedules of daily exchanges. Most people do this at night while they're sleeping.

Is one type better or worse? Each type of dialysis has benefits and disadvantages.

People on hemodialysis need to go to a dialysis center three times a week for several hours. This can be inconvenient.

The major advantage of peritoneal dialysis is that it can be done at home without large machines. People can go to work and live fairly normal lives.

One of the major problems with any type of dialysis is infection. In peritoneal dialysis, the catheter can get infected. This can cause an infection within the abdomen. People on hemodialysis can get infected grafts and catheters as well.

Are there options other than dialysis? The only other choice is a kidney transplant. This is when a donated kidney is put inside your body and works like your own kidney.

Talk to your doctor about what you can do to prevent kidney failure.


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