Different Types of Dialysis

What is Dialysis?
Dialysis is a process that artificially performs the functions of a healthy pair of kidneys as their replacement. Before dialysis became a reality, the result of a kidney failure meant death. But since its inception in the 1940s, the treatment has given hope to millions by paving a way for patients to live without sacrificing productivity. According to National Kidney Foundation, 10% of the population worldwide is affected by chronic kidney disease (CKD) and over 2 million people worldwide currently receive treatment with dialysis or kidney transplant to stay alive.

Who is Dialysis for?
Dialysis is for patients who suffer from damaged, injured or impaired kidneys. A patient who suffers from chronic kidney disease or renal failure in its late stages is likely to be put on a dialysis treatment. Kidney failure, however, is not always permanent. In that case, dialysis may be used as a treatment for a limited period of time until the kidneys are able to naturally function optimally.

Often, Dialysis is used temporarily in the case of:
  • A drug overdose or consumption of toxic substances
  • A chronic heart disease
  • A traumatic injury to the kidney

How Dialysis helps
Dialysis maintains balance in the human body. It carries out the kidney’s native functions such as:

  • Cleaning the blood
  • Removing waste, salt and extra water to prevent build up
  • Safe regulation of chemicals like potassium, sodium and bicarbonate in the blood
  • Controlling blood pressure

Types of Dialysis
There are two main types of dialysis:

  • Hemodialysis
  • Peritoneal dialysis

The primary difference between the two is that Hemodialysis works through filtering while peritoneal dialysis works through diffusion.


Hemodialysis is a more commonly opted treatment in which an artificial kidney (hemodialyzer) carries out the task of removing the excess waste and chemicals from the blood. For this method, the patient requires a minor surgery for the enlargement of the blood vessel, usually in the arm, to make the insertion of catheters possible.

The doctors may even opt for fistula— an access made by joining an artery to a vein, thus creating a bigger blood vessel, or grafting— using a plastic tube to join an artery and a vein, in case the patient’s blood vessels are not suitable for fistula.

The typical duration of a Hemodialysis treatment is 3-5 hours, 3 times a week. This could differ depending on the patient’s personal condition and requirements.

The treatment is mostly done at a dialysis center, hospital, or the doctor’s office. Home Hemodialysis is recommended for patients who are in need of a long-term treatment.

When Home Hemodialysis is feasible:

  • The patient has had an extended exposure to the treatment
  • The patient has maintained physical stability during treatment
  • The patient has a home suitable for the dialysis equipment
  • The patient does not suffer from illnesses that may compromise the treatment
  • The patient has a caregiver who can help out with the treatment