Kidney Failure Treatment Options

Treatment Options for Kidney Failure


There are 3 treatment options that you can choose from to replace lost kidney function:


  • Kidney Transplant – This is a surgical procedure that places a healthy kidney from another person into your body.
  • Hemodialysis  Blood is filtered using a dialyzer and dialysis machine.
  • Peritoneal dialysis –  Blood is filtered inside the body after the abdomen is filled with a special cleaning solution.


Kidney Transplant


A transplant may not be available for you when you are ready for treatment.  You may need to be on dialysis until a transplant is available.  A kidney transplant is a treatment, not a cure.  A transplant can last for many years, but may not last a lifetime.  A successful transplant may return you to a state of good health without dialysis, and you may be able to return to a more normal lifestyle, diet, and/or work schedule.

You will need to strictly follow your doctor’s orders for taking medication the entire time you have the transplant.  Your doctor will watch you closely to make sure the medications are at the right dose.




Dialysis is a way to clean the body of extra toxins and fluids when your kidneys no longer work.  Because there are several different dialysis options you will have to work with your dialysis team to figure out what option is right for you.

The type of dialysis done at outpatient dialysis units is called hemodialysis and it involves taking the blood out of your body and running it through an artificial kidney then giving it back to you!

Most patients run three days a week for four hours a treatment, but treatment times do vary and are determined by your dialysis team after reviewing your labs.

Hemodialysis can also be done in the comfort of your own home.  A partner is necessary if you want to do home hemodialysis.

A Hemodialysis machine and supplies will be sent to you.  The clinic nurse will then provide you and your partner with about 4-8 weeks of training, where you will learn to perform the treatment and troubleshoot.  Dialysis supplies will be sent to your home on a monthly basis.  You will need a clean, dry area to store the supplies.  Your clinic staff will review your needs and guide you through the process if needed.

Once you are on your own, support services are available by phone during your treatment.  You will still need to visit your healthcare team regularly to be sure the dialysis is keeping you healthy.


Peritoneal Dialysis


Peritoneal Dialysis uses your own peritoneal membrane as a filter for your blood.  The peritoneal cavity is a space in your abdomen.  A thin lining called the peritoneal membrane covers this space.

A special solution called dialysate is put into the peritoneal cavity through a tube called a peritoneal catheter.

The dialysate remains in the peritoneal cavity for several hours.  During this time, waste products and extra water move from your blood, through the peritoneal membrane, and into the dialysate in the peritoneal cavity.

The used dialysate is then drained and replaced with new dialysate.

Dialysate runs in and out of your peritoneal cavity through a small, flexible tube called a catheter.  The catheter is about the size of a straw and is put into your lower abdomen during a minor surgery.

The catheter is ready to use in about 2 weeks and is completely healed in about 4 weeks.  Your clinic nurse will teach you how to care for your access to prevent infection.  Your clothing will cover the catheter when you are not using it.

During your treatment, you PD catheter is connected to sterile tubing which connects to a drain bag and new bag of dialysate. Each set of fill, dwell, and drain is called an exchange.

Fill is when new dialysate flows into the peritoneal cavity.  Dwell is when the new dialysate stays or dwells in the peritoneal cavity for a period of time.  This is the time dialysis takes place.

Drain is when the used dialysate is drained out of the peritoneal cavity into the empty drain bag.  This fluid contains the extra water and waste products that were removed from the blood.

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