When you are diagnosed with Late Stage CKD and kidney failure, your kidneys no longer function at a level to maintain life. The tasks of filtering wastes from your body, and removing excess minerals and fluids must be taken over by a process called dialysis. These treatments, along with medication, take the place of normal kidney function. Since healthy kidneys operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, a key concept in choosing dialysis is that the more dialysis you receive the better you will feel.

There are two types of dialysis: peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis. Peritoneal dialysis, or PD, uses the thin film of tissue, called the peritoneum, which lines your abdominal cavity, as a natural filter to remove waste and excess fluids from your blood. The peritoneum contains a rich network of small blood vessels and tiny openings in these capillary walls that allow fluids, wastes and excess minerals to be drawn from the blood after the cleaning solution, called dialysate, flows through a catheter that is surgically placed into the abdominal cavity and comes in contact with the membrane. PD is a self-care option that does not involve needles and can be performed in the comfort of your own home, work, or even when you are traveling. PD treatments occur either several times daily or throughout the night, and usually do not require someone to assist you. It is the most popular form of home dialysis.

Hemodialysis uses an external filter in a machine called a dialyzer to clean your blood. This treatment can be done in a dialysis center or at home. Hemodialysis requires creating an access, or a way to get to your blood, through one of three vascular access options. Hemodialysis treatments take place several times a week, and can sometimes be done overnight.

You can learn general information about both types of dialysis, and how to choose the best type for you, in this section. More detailed information about the daily and weekly routines of each type of dialysis may be found in the Peritoneal Dialysis and Hemodialysis chapters in this program.


Additional Audio Guide Voice Over:

Each treatment has benefits and risks, and choosing one at this point does not mean you can’t switch to another if you have a lifestyle change in the future.

Good questions to ask of yourself are: What kinds of activities do I enjoy? What is my daily schedule like?  Is my job flexible? What other medical conditions do I have? Do I have support and help at home? What is important to me about how I live?

Click on the link titled Treatment Evaluator for a tool that can help guide these decisions.