Dialysis is a treatment for kidney failure that removes waste and extra fluid from the blood, using a filter. In hemodialysis (HD), the filter is a plastic tube filled with millions of hollow fibers, called a dialyzer.
The following is an edited reprint of information compiled and created by the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, a service of the National Institute of Health.
Hemodialysis is typically conducted in a dedicated facility with specialized nurses and technicians who specialize in hemodialysis. However, dialysis can also be done in a patient’s home. Once you and your doctor have determined that at home hemodialysis is right for you, you will begin a comprehensive safety and training program that is tailored to your specific medical and learning needs.
In most cases, you will learn to perform at home hemodialysis treatments with a dialysis partner. An access will have to be created to allow blood to flow from your body to the dialyzer, so it can filter waste and remove extra fluid from your body. There are different ways to create an access, and you will discuss with your doctor which one is right for you and your treatment.
There are three types of at home hemodialysis:
- Short Daily at Home Hemodialysis – Performed five or six times a week, typically for two to three hours per session.
- Traditional at Home Hemodialysis – Performed three times per week, typically for about four hours per session. This is similar to the treatments received at a local dialysis center.
- Nocturnal Home Hemodialysis – Performed during sleep, typically six to eight hours a night, three or more nights a week. Many patients enjoy the ability to spend the night dialyzing and not lose time during the day that could be spent at work or with family.