Types of Dialysis

Dialysis machine

Hemodialysis

In hemodialysis, an artificial kidney (hemodialyzer) is used to remove waste and extra chemicals and fluid from your blood. To get your blood into the artificial kidney, the doctor needs to make an access (entrance) into your blood vessels. This is done by minor surgery to your arm or leg.

Sometimes, an access is made by joining an artery to a vein under your skin to make a bigger blood vessel called a fistula.

However, if your blood vessels are not adequate for a fistula, the doctor may use a soft plastic tube to join an artery and a vein under your skin. This is called a graft.

Occasionally, an access is made by means of a narrow plastic tube, called a catheter, which is inserted into a large vein in your neck. This type of access may be temporary, but is sometimes used for long-term treatment.

Peritoneal dialysis

In this type of dialysis, your blood is cleaned inside your body. The doctor will place a plastic tube called a catheter into your abdomen (stomach) to make an access. During the treatment, your abdominal area (called the peritoneal cavity) is slowly filled with dialysate through the catheter. The blood stays in the arteries and veins that line your peritoneal cavity. Extra fluid and waste products are drawn out of your blood and into the dialysate.

A full peritoneal dialysis home program offering both continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis as well as continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis is staffed by nurse specialists in peritoneal dialysis.

Dialysis explanations courtesy of National Kidney Foundation Web site.