When kidneys no longer function as they should, dialysis can be used to remove wastes, extra fluid and toxins from the body. Some cases of acute kidney failure require dialysis for only a short time, until the kidneys recover. In other cases, dialysis is needed until a kidney transplant can be performed. The Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network offers different types of dialysis at several convenient locations.
Hemodialysis uses a special filter or artificial membrane, called a dialyzer, to filter the blood and remove wastes, toxins and extra fluid. The patient is connected to the dialyzer, and the blood is slowly pumped from the body through the filter, which removes the waste products and extra fluid. The clean blood is then returned to the patient’s body. Hemodialysis can be done in the hospital, in a dialysis center or at home. Home hemodialysis requires having a dialysis machine in the patient’s home and a trained partner to be present for all dialysis treatments.
Nocturnal dialysis is hemodialysis given during eight-hour sessions at night, three times a week at the dialysis center. The longer dialysis session allows for slower fluid removal, which makes the treatment easier to tolerate. It also means better removal of wastes and toxins.
For some people, dialysis can be performed at home using a method called peritoneal dialysis. Peritoneal dialysis cleans the blood of wastes and removes extra fluid using the body’s own peritoneal membrane as the filter. This is the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity. A catheter is placed in the abdomen and a special cleansing solution is washed or pumped in and out of the abdomen in cycles through the catheter. In some cases, peritoneal dialysis can be done at work or while traveling.
For certain patients, dialysis can be performed at home using either the hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis methods. Special training and equipment is required before either method can be performed at home.