Dialysis 101: Types, Benefits, and Risks of Dialysis Treatment

Exploring Different Types of Dialysis

Dialysis is a life-saving medical procedure used to remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys are unable to perform their function adequately. There are two main types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. In this article, we will explore these types of dialysis and their key characteristics.

1. Hemodialysis

Hemodialysis (HD) is the most common type of dialysis. It involves using a machine called a hemodialyzer or dialysis machine to filter the blood outside the body. During hemodialysis, a vascular access, usually a surgically created fistula or graft, is used to connect the patient’s bloodstream to the dialysis machine.

The dialysis machine pumps the patient’s blood through a filter called a dialyzer, which acts as an artificial kidney. Inside the dialyzer, the blood flows in thin tubes, and a special fluid called dialysate runs on the other side of the tubes. Waste products and excess fluid pass from the blood into the dialysate, effectively cleansing the blood.

Hemodialysis is typically performed in a specialized dialysis center, hospital, or at home under medical supervision. Treatments usually last three to five hours and are required three times a week. Hemodialysis requires regular access to a dialysis machine and specialized healthcare professionals to perform the procedure.

2. Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is an alternative type of dialysis that can be performed at home. It utilizes the peritoneal membrane, a thin lining in the abdominal cavity, as a natural filter to remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood.

During peritoneal dialysis, a catheter is surgically placed into the abdomen. A sterile solution called dialysate is introduced into the abdominal cavity through the catheter. The peritoneal membrane acts as a semipermeable barrier, allowing waste products and excess fluid to pass from the bloodstream into the dialysate. After a prescribed dwell time, the used dialysate is drained from the abdomen and replaced with fresh dialysate.

Peritoneal dialysis offers more flexibility as it can be performed at home, allowing individuals to incorporate dialysis into their daily routine. There are two main types of peritoneal dialysis: continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), which involves manual exchanges throughout the day, and automated peritoneal dialysis (APD), which utilizes a machine called a cycler to perform exchanges automatically while the patient sleeps.


Dialysis is a vital treatment for individuals with kidney failure or severe kidney dysfunction. Hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis are the two primary types of dialysis that effectively remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood. Hemodialysis is performed using a machine that filters the blood outside the body, while peritoneal dialysis uses the peritoneal membrane in the abdomen to filter the blood. Each type has its advantages and considerations, and the choice between them depends on various factors, including the patient’s medical condition, lifestyle, and preferences. Proper medical evaluation and consultation with healthcare professionals are crucial to determine the most suitable type of dialysis for each individual’s needs.