How does dialysis work?

Dialysis can be done in a hospital, in a dialysis unit that is not part of a hospital, or at home. You and your doctor will decide which place is best, based on your medical condition and your wishes. There are two types of dialysis -- hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

When your kidneys are functioning properly, they remove waste, fluids, and salts from your blood, all of which are then passed through the urine. When kidneys are in failure, this waste builds up in the blood, causing many complications that, over time, can become severe. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with kidney failure, your doctor may prescribe dialysis.

Hemodialysis, the most common form of dialysis, works like an artificial kidney by filtering out the toxins in the blood. Blood is drawn from the body through a tube, then filtered through a machine called a dialyzer. After the blood is filtered by the dialyzer, it is pumped back into your body through a second tube. A second type of dialysis, called peritoneal dialysis, works in the same way, except that blood is filtered through a catheter inserted into the abdominal area.

Continue Learning about Dialysis

How long will I need to stay on dialysis?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
How long you stay on dialysis treatment depends on the type of kidney failure you have. If you have ...
More Answers
What is artificial life support?
Katrina Bramstedt, PhDKatrina Bramstedt, PhD
Artificial life support are forms of medical technology used when your vital organ systems are faili...
More Answers
What can I do if I have dry and itchy skin when on dialysis?
National Kidney FoundationNational Kidney Foundation
Dry or itchy skin is experienced by many people undergoing dialysis, especially in the winter. Use s...
More Answers
Which type of dialysis should I get if I have diabetes?
American Diabetes AssociationAmerican Diabetes Association
Your doctor will help you decide whether hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis is right for you. Diabe...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.