Skip to content

    Hemodialysis Compared to Peritoneal Dialysis

    Font Size

    Topic Overview

    Hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis are both used to treat kidney failure. Hemodialysis uses a man-made membrane (dialyzer) to filter wastes and remove extra fluid from the blood. Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneal membrane) and a solution (dialysate) to remove wastes and extra fluid from the body.

    Each form of dialysis has its advantages and disadvantages.

    Comparison of dialysis methods
    Hemodialysis Peritoneal dialysis
    What is usually involved
    • Before hemodialysis treatments can begin, your doctor will need to create a site where blood can flow in and out of your body.
    • 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.
    • You will probably go to a hospital or dialysis center on a fairly set schedule. Hemodialysis usually is done 3 days a week and takes 3 to 5 hours a day.
    • You may be able to do dialysis at home. Home hemodialysis requires training for you and at least one other person. Your home may need some changes so that the equipment will work. You may have choices in how often and how long you can have dialysis, such as every day for shorter periods, long nighttime dialysis, or several times a week for 3 to 5 hours a day.
    • You will have a catheter placed in your belly (dialysis access) before you begin dialysis.
    • Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your belly, which is called the peritoneal membrane, to filter your blood.
    • The process of doing peritoneal dialysis is called an exchange. You will usually complete 4 to 6 exchanges every day.
    • You will be taught how to do your treatment at home, on your own schedule.
    • It is most often done by trained health professionals who can watch for any problems.
    • It allows you to be in contact with other people having dialysis, which may give you emotional support.
    • You don't have to do it yourself, as you do with peritoneal dialysis.
    • You do it for a shorter amount of time and on fewer days each week than peritoneal dialysis.
    • Home hemodialysis can give you more flexibility in when, where, and how long you have dialysis.
    • It gives you more freedom than hemodialysis. It can be done at home or in any clean place. You can do it when you travel. You may be able to do it while you sleep. You can do it by yourself.
    • It doesn't require as many food and fluid restrictions as hemodialysis.
    • It doesn't use needles.
    • It causes you to feel tired on the day of the treatments.
    • It can cause problems such as low blood pressure and blood clots in the dialysis access.
    • It increases your risk of bloodstream infections.
    • Home hemodialysis may require changes to your home. You and a friend will need to complete training.
    • The procedure may be hard for some people to do.
    • It increases your risk for an infection of the lining of the belly, called peritonitis.

    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.
    Next Article:

    Hemodialysis Compared to Peritoneal Dialysis Topics

    Hot Topics

    WebMD Video: Now Playing

    Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

    Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

    disciplining a boy
    Types, symptoms, causes.
    fruit drinks
    Eat these to think better.
    embarrassed woman
    Do you feel guilty after eating?
    diabetes supply kit
    Pack and prepare.
    handful of vegetables and vitamins
    Diet tips and mistakes.
    birth control pills
    Which kind is right for you?
    Remember your finger
    Are you getting more forgetful?
    sticky notes on face
    10 tips to clear your brain fog.
    Close up of eye
    12 reasons you're distracted.
    Trainer demonstrating exercise for RA
    Exercises for your joints.
    apple slices with peanut butter
    What goes best with workouts?
    woman having a good day
    Revitalize your life.

    Women's Health Newsletter

    Find out what women really need.