What Is Dialysis?

When kidneys fail, your body may have difficulty filtering your blood and keeping your body chemically balanced. Dialysis is a treatment process that cleans the body of unwanted toxins, waste products and excess fluids. Dialysis can take the place of some kidney function and, along with medication and proper care, help people live longer.


There are several treatment options when kidney failure occurs with ESRD. Discuss all the choices with your doctor to determine what's right for you.


Who needs dialysis

When a person with chronic kidney disease (CKD) reaches end stage renal disease (ESRD), also known as kidney failure or stage 5 CKD, the kidneys are no longer functioning to filter and clean the blood the way healthy kidneys normally would. Without treatment, life-threatening waste and toxins will build up in the body. At this point, dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant is needed to prolong life.

Doctors use a number of kidney function tests when determining kidney health. Early diagnosis of CKD and regular monitoring can help you keep kidney function for as long as possible—and allow you and your doctor to plan for ESRD treatment when necessary.

How does dialysis work?

Dialysis works by filtering toxins, waste and fluid from the blood through a semipermeable membrane. There are different methods of dialysis that filter blood in different ways.
how does dialysis work
Dialysis treatment is prescribed by your doctor. Together, you and your doctor will discuss treatment options and determine what's right for you. If you decide to go on dialysis, your doctor will prescribe your treatment amount and frequency based on your unique health needs. It's important to complete your dialysis treatment exactly as prescribed to feel your best.
Chris’s testimonial for thriving on peritoneal dialysis


Thriving on peritoneal dialysis since 2016.
Gloria’s testimonial for thriving on hemodialysis


Thriving on hemodialysis since 2013.

Different types of dialysis to consider

There are 2 main kinds of dialysis—and several kidney failure treatment options—to discuss with your doctor. Depending on which type of dialysis you choose, you may also have options for treating in a center or at home.
  • Peritoneal dialysis—uses the blood vessels in the lining of your abdomen—the body's natural filter—along with a special solution via a peritoneal catheter to filter blood. With this method, blood never leaves the body. At-home peritoneal dialysis can be done with a machine or manually at home, at work or even while traveling.
  • Hemodialysis—filters the blood with a machine called a dialyzer. Once you are connected to the dialyzer via your hemodialysis access, blood flows into the machine, gets filtered and is returned to the body. There is a choice in where you do hemodialysis and who performs the treatment. In-center hemodialysis is done at the center by a team of medical professionals. At-home hemodialysis can be performed in the comfort of your own home with the help of a care partner.
There are 2 main kinds of dialysis—and several kidney failure treatment options—to discuss with your doctor.

Dialysis Facts

Dialysis facts at a glance

What is kidney dialysis? It's treatment that can help you live well with ESRD.

  • Dialysis can substitute many normal functions of healthy kidneys.
  • Dialysis empowers people with kidney failure to live full, productive lives.
  • There are 2 types of kidney dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
  • More and more people are choosing at-home dialysis, which can offer greater flexibility and better outcomes.
  • Many people switch dialysis types to fit a changing lifestyle at some point during long-term treatment.
  • The best dialysis option for you is the one that best fits your lifestyle and health needs.
cross guard thriving on dialysis


You can live a full life on dialysis treatment—and there's plenty of support to help you reach your goals.