Treatment options

When your kidneys fail, there are three basic types of treatment available:

  • Transplantation
  • Hemodialysis
  • Peritoneal dialysis

All three treatment types are used successfully over the world.

Transplantation

Transplantation

Kidney transplantation involves implanting a healthy kidney from one donor, , alive or deceased, to a person with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Receiving a new kidney is not a cure for kidney disease, but a treatment. Many patients with chronic kidney disease , but not everyone, are suitable candidates for transplantation.

Hemodialysis (HD)

HD

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, this is the so called ‘artificial kidney’. Hemodialysis is generally performed for at least three to four hours per session, 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, each type of treatment has its own challenges.

When hemodialysis is best

With modern dialysis machines, generally what patients will need is three hemodialysis sessions per week, each lasting a minimum of four hours. During the session, you are connected to the dialysis machine. It’s quite remarkable to consider when you consider that the dialysis machine is trying to achieve in twelve hours’ treatment per week what healthy kidneys do around the clock, every day. By taking the right steps, together we can help you lead as healthy a life as possible.

Peritoneal dialysis (PD)

PD

This treatment is called peritoneal dialysis (PD) because the filtering of the blood is done in the peritoneum - the membrane that lines the peritoneal 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 prescribed 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 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, or CAPD) or using an automatic process at night with a cycler (Automated Peritoneal Dialysis, or APD). Either way, you will need to feel capable and confident to handle the procedure.

When is peritoneal dialysis suitable?

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.

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Frequently asked questions about dialysis

Will my kidneys be cured when I get dialysis?

Dialysis is a procedure that can replace the two most important kidney functions: removal of excess water from the body, 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 agents 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, which varies for HD and PD patients. Ask your nephrologist for advice.

Can I do sport?

Patients should be active in sport and take part in physical activities, as sports helps you stay healthy and feel good. However, it's best to consult your nephrologist about what exercise you can do, and with what intensity.