Hemodialysis is a treatment where blood is filtered outside the body with a dialysis machine. During hemodialysis, blood is drawn off from a blood vessel and passed through a synthetic filter, called a dialyzer. In this dialyzer the blood is cleaned before being returned to the body, therefore, this dialyzer is the so called ‘artificial kidney’. Hemodialysis is generally performed for at least three hours three times a week, usually in a dialysis unit.
An alternative to a clinic based dialysis treatment is being treated in a familiar environment at home. Different types of home dialysis allow patients to adapt their treatment to their everyday routine. However every type of treatment has its own challenges.
When hemodialysis is best
With modern dialysis machines, three hemodialysis sessions a week, each lasting for a minimum of four hours are usually what you’ll need. During this time, are connected to the dialysis machine. It’s really quite remarkable when you consider that the dialysis machine is trying to achieve in twelve hours treatment per week what healthy kidneys do around the clock, day in, day out. By taking the right steps, together we can help you lead as healthy a life as possible.
Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)
This treatment is called peritoneal dialysis (PD) because the filtering of the blood is done in the peritoneum - the membrane that lines the cavity.
The peritoneal cavity acts as a storage area for the dialysis fluid and the filtration takes place across the peritoneum. Toxins and excess fluid cross the peritoneal membrane during the pre-scribed dwell time.
A permanent tube or catheter, is inserted into the peritoneal cavity. Through which, dialysis fluid is fed into the cavity and left to absorb the impurities from the blood. Later, the fluid is drained-off into a bag and replaced with fresh fluid. This process of filling and draining, can be done manually during the day (Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis, CAPD) or using an automatic process at night with a cycler (Automated Peritoneal Dialysis, APD). Either way you will need to feel capable and confident to handle the procedure.
Who is Peritoneal Dialysis right for?
There are times when peritoneal dialysis may be the better option. But in many cases, it’s a medically-driven choice. For example, if you have some types of heart or vascular disease. Because of their restricted vascular access, peritoneal dialysis is usually the treatment choice for young children. Opting for dialysis at home also allows children to continue their schooling.
Whichever treatment you choose or your physician recommends, Fresenius Medical Care is there to help and support you. As the global leader in dialysis, we provide a full range of services and products — whether providing the optimum conditions for transplantation, supporting you with peritoneal dialysis, or providing the highest available standards of hemodialysis.
Frequently asked questions about dialysis
Will my kidney cure when I get dialysis?
Dialysis is a procedure that can replace the two most important kidney functions: removal of excess body water and removal of waste products that have built up in the blood.
Dialysis is not a cure.
Do I have to stop working?
You can return to work or continue education while on dialysis. If you are treated in a dialysis center, you will be given a treatment plan that fits your work or education schedule. Another alternative is home hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis, which allow for more flexibility in schedules.
Is dialysis painful?
During dialysis you may feel a pinch when each of the needles go in. There are skin numbing drugs that can help. The rest of your dialysis treatment should not hurt. If it does, tell your staff member so they can fix it.
What can I drink and eat as a dialysis patient?
You will need to follow a special diet. There are different diets for HD and PD patients. Ask your nephrologist for advice.
Can I do sport?
Patients should be active in sport and take part in games, as sport helps you stay healthy and feel good. But it's best to consult your nephrologist about what exercise you can do and with what intensity.