Kidney dialysis is an artificial process that performs the two main functions of healthy kidneys: filtering the blood (ie, clearing waste products from the blood), and balancing fluid levels by clearing waste products from the blood and removing excess water.

If dialysis is stopped the patient will probably die within a few days or weeks.

The two different types of dialysis, hemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD), work in similar ways. They clean blood by passing it through a membrane.

In HD the membrane is artificial and outside the patient's body.

In PD the membrane is natural and inside the patient's abdomen.

Both kinds of dialysis are effective. Many patients will experience all forms of dialysis during their lifetime on treatment.

Your clinical condition is one factor in determining which dialysis treatment will be the most suitable for you, but often you will have a choice. Find out as much as you can about the different treatment options and which one is most appropriate for you at this time. Discuss them with your renal healthcare team and with your family.

You can also learn more about:

  • Coping with the changes that dialysis will make in your life
  • Continuing to live an active life, including travel and exercise
  • Continuing to enjoy family, friends and sexual relations

May 1, 2006