Dialysis becomes necessary when the kidneys can longer provide their normal function. Dialysis is typically started when the kidney function is significantly decreased or there are associated complications that can be no longer managed with medications alone.
Our normal diet consists of ingredients such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. As these substances get digested and metabolized in the body, toxic compounds are formed that need to be eliminated from the body. The various forms of dialysis remove these harmful substances (toxins) that accumulate in the body in the presence of abnormal kidney function.
In-Center Hemodialysis is the most common form of dialysis performed in the United States. In hemodialysis, the patient is hooked up to a dialysis machine and a filter cleans the blood continuously for the dialysis session. The length of the session can be from 3 to 5 hours and is done three days every week.
Home Hemodialysis is only different from regular in-center hemodialysis in that the patient and a caregiver are trained to perform the dialysis procedure at home.
For both kinds of hemodialysis, a special "access" needs to be placed.
In this kind of dialysis, which is done in the home setting, the inner lining of the abdomen called the peritoneal membrane is used to filter the blood. A newer method of providing this kind of dialysis involves a machine called a "cycler" that cleans the blood at night while the patient sleeps.
Kidney transplantation is considered to be the ideal way of replacing kidney function. Living-related kidney transplantation has even better outcomes.
It is important to avoid blood transfusions to avoid getting "sensitized", which may then limit transplant options.