Learn about dialysis, access choices and common myths
Dialysis Treatment Options
Dialysis is a life-sustaining process that cleans waste products from the blood and removes extra fluids when a person’s kidneys fail. Dialysis patients typically require treatment on an ongoing basis unless they receive a kidney transplant.
You have choices with dialysis. One choice is whether you want to receive dialysis treatment in an in-center dialysis facility or perform it from the comfort of your own home. There are also two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis . There are many benefits and considerations of each type of dialysis. You and your doctor will evaluate these options to decide which is right for you.
Daytime treatment, performed at a dialysis facility, typically 3 times a week for 3 – 5 hours per treatment session.
In-Center Hemodialysis—Overnight (Nocturnal)
Overnight treatment performed at a dialysis facility, typically 3 times a week for 8 hours per treatment session (may not be available in all locations).
Dialysis that can be done in the comfort of the patient’s own home and on their own schedule. The frequency and length of each treatment may vary. There are two methods of home hemodialysis treatments:
Standard Home Dialysis: treatments are usually done 3 – 4 times per week (any time of day) and vary in length (but usually are longer than a typical 3 – 5 hour in-center treatment).
Short Daily Home Dialysis: treatments are usually done 5-6 times per week (any time of day) and last approximately 2-4 hours.
Home Peritoneal Dialysis
Peritoneal dialysis treatment offers two options:
Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD): performed manually by the patient 4 – 5 times a day in any clean environment (at home, work or while traveling).
Continuous Cycling Peritoneal Dialysis (CCPD): the patient uses a machine, called a cycler, for about 9 – 10 hours overnight while sleeping.
Compare your dialysis choices
Learn more about your dialysis treatment options to decide with your doctor which one is right for you.
Most people don’t know much about kidneys. It’s normal to have lots of questions. You may even believe some things that are not true, like these common dialysis myths.
Myth: Dialysis will make my kidneys get better.
Truth: Once kidneys fail from chronic kidney disease, they do not get better. Dialysis is not a cure. Dialysis is a treatment that does some of what your kidneys did. You need dialysis or a kidney transplant to live.
Myth: Dialysis hurts.
Truth: During dialysis you may feel a pinch when each of the needles goes 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 he or she can fix it.
Myth: My loved ones can catch my kidney disease.
Truth: Kidney disease is not contagious. You can’t give it to someone by sharing a glass, kissing or making love. Your family may be at risk, though, if they have diabetes, high blood pressure or other problems that run in families. These conditions can lead to kidney failure. Ask your doctor if your family should be tested.
Myth: All I need is dialysis to feel better.
Truth: Dialysis does some of the work your kidneys can’t do now—but not all of it. You will need some medications. Most people also need some diet changes, exercise and fluid limits to feel their best.
Myth: I’ll have to stop working.
Truth: You may have to make some changes. Talk to your social worker about your dialysis options for work.
Myth: I’ll have to give up all the foods I love.
Truth: The dietitian will work with you to have at least some of your favorite foods in your meal plan. Or, ask your care team about ways to get more dialysis, in-center or at home. With more dialysis treatment, your blood gets cleaner, so you may be able to eat and drink with fewer limits.
Feeling good starts with a great access
Dialysis is the start of a new life for you — and you can take steps now to make it a good life! Your dialysis lifeline is an access — a way to reach your blood to clean it. Choosing a good access and taking care of it will help you feel your best and allow you to do the things you enjoy.
There are several choices for access, depending on the type of dialysis you choose and timing of when dialysis begins. But what all access sites have in common is that they are placed by a surgeon and take time to heal before they can be used. So planning for your access of choice is important to ensure you have the best treatment possible.
Choosing Your Access
Hemodialysis has three access options
Surgeon connects one of the patient’s arteries to their vein under the skin of their arm. A fistula is considered “best” access choice as it is the most natural access because it’s made with the patient’s own blood vessels; provides the best dialysis blood flow and lowest chance of infections.
The surgeon connects the patient’s artery to a piece of man-made soft plastic that acts like a vein and is placed under the skin of the patient’s upper arm and considered a “good“ access choice, second best choice to a fistula access.
Catheter access (hemodialysis)
A catheter (a long plastic tube, shaped like a “Y”) is placed in the neck, chest or groin and connected to a central vein. The other end of the tubing is outside the skin and used for hooking up to the dialysis tubing. The catheter is considered the poorest access option and should be avoided, if possible, because of the higher risk of clotting, higher chance of infection and can have a slower blood flow rate during dialysis. However, there may be conditions that prevent a patient from having a fistula or graft (those patients whose blood vessels are not strong enough for a fistula).
Learn more about
Peritoneal Dialysis Catheter
Placed in the belly, a peritoneal dialysis catheter allows the patient to fill and drain fluid as part of an exchange. Patients who choose peritoneal dialysis are often recommended to have a fistula done as well, to be used as a back-up should hemodialysis be needed in the future.
Learn more about