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Chronic Kidney Disease

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Dialysis is a mechanical process that performs the work that healthy kidneys would do. It clears wastes and extra fluid from the body and restores the proper balance of chemicals (electrolytes) in the blood. When chronic kidney disease becomes so severe that your kidneys are no longer working properly, you may need dialysis. You may use dialysis to replace the work of the kidneys for many years. Or dialysis may be a short-term measure while you are waiting for a kidney transplant.

The two types of dialysis used to treat severe chronic kidney disease are hemodialysis camera.gif and peritoneal dialysis camera.gif.

  • Hemodialysis uses a man-made membrane called a dialyzer to clean your blood. You are connected to the dialyzer by tubes attached to your blood vessels. Before hemodialysis treatments can begin, a surgeon creates a site where blood can flow in and out of your body. This is called the dialysis access. Usually the doctor creates the access by joining an artery and a vein in the forearm or by using a small tube to connect an artery and a vein. An access may be created on a short-term basis by putting a small tube into a vein in your neck, upper chest, or groin.
  • Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your belly, which is called the peritoneal membrane, to filter your blood. Before you can begin peritoneal dialysis, a surgeon needs to place a catheter in your belly to create the dialysis access.
Kidney Failure: Should I Start Dialysis?
Kidney Failure: When Should I Start Dialysis?
dplink.gif Kidney Failure: What Type of Dialysis Should I Have?
Advance Care Planning: Should I Stop Kidney Dialysis?

What to think about

If you have severe chronic kidney disease but have not yet developed kidney failure, talk to your doctor about which type of dialysis would be best for you.

Learning about dialysis (predialysis education) is an important step in preparing for dialysis. Most dialysis clinics offer predialysis services to help you know about your choices.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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