Types of Dialysis: Which is best for you

Published on: 05/09/2023

Is your doctor talking about starting dialysis? 

Are you confused about what, if any, options you have in how you will receive your dialysis treatments? 

You are not alone. There are more options than ever for dialysis treatments. Keep reading to find out about each and important questions to consider when choosing.

Types of Dialysis

Dialysis is a process that removes waste and excess fluid from the body when the kidneys are no longer able to do so. There are different types of dialysis, and it’s important to understand your options so you can choose the one that’s best for you.

In-Center Hemodialysis

In-center hemodialysis (ICHD) is the most common type of dialysis in the United States.ICHD is most often performed 3 times per week for about 4 hours. The time of treatments varies based on how clean the blood can get in that 4 hours and how well the individual tolerates the treatment. Some individuals require longer treatments due to larger body size. 

ICHD can also be performed overnight or late at night. These individuals come to the dialysis center later in the evening and receive treatments over 5-6 hours before going home. This type of treatment is more gentle on the body as the blood is cleared over a longer period of time. It is also less common that a dialysis center will offer this type of treatment as it is more resource intensive to have nursing staff present late at night.

Patients receiving ICHD follow a set schedule that is typically Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the same time each day. Many centers offer earlier morning or afternoon options for those that work, but there isn’t a ton of flexibility in scheduling.

Home Hemodialysis

This is a similar process to in-center hemodialysis, but you do it at home. Home hemodialysis requires training, but it offers more flexibility in terms of scheduling and is done more frequently. Since home hemodialysis is performed more frequently, there often less nutritional restrictions than in-center hemodialysis.

Peritoneal Dialysis

This type of dialysis is done at home. A catheter is inserted into the abdomen, and a special solution is introduced into the abdominal cavity. This solution helps draw waste and excess fluid out of the body. Peritoneal dialysis is often more gentle on the body as it is completed every night. Regular bowel movements and stable blood sugars are important to peritoneal dialysis working its best.

Dialysis types: image depicting the differences between in center dialysis and home dialysis types

Questions to Ponder

Dialysis is a big change. The following questions and topics are designed to help you think through this decision. Also, just because you choose one type of dialysis now, doesn’t mean that you can’t change your mind later and switch modality. Circumstances change and the way you receive dialysis can change to.

Treatment Schedule

What all do you have going on in your life? Do you work? Travel frequently? Thinking through how dialysis will fit into your daily routine is an important consideration. 

Treatment Location

Some people want control over where their treatment takes place and prefer the comfort of their own home. Others prefer to not have dialysis supplies in their home because they feel it reminds them of their dialysis all the time.

Support

Home hemodialysis requires the most support as someone has to be present while the treatments are taking place. Peritoneal dialysis can be done by yourself. In-center hemodialysis may require transportation to treatments if it is not safe for you to drive. Transportation can often be arranged through insurance or a caregiver.

Wanting to learn more about the types of dialysis and which may be a better fit for you? The Dialysis Essentials Course discusses the types of dialysis as well as the diet for those on dialysis…spoiler alert, it’s less restrictive than you may think! Sign up today and take back control of your food and treatment choices!

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