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    Hemodialysis Compared to Peritoneal Dialysis

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    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.
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