Kidney Disease Treatment Decision Guide

Woman inquiring about dialysis
When considering kidney disease treatment options for end stage renal disease (ESRD), talk openly with your nephrologist about your preferences and priorities. Together, you can determine which kidney failure treatment will work best with your life.

The power of choice in CKD treatment

Most people have the freedom to choose the treatment option that best fits their lifestyle and health needs—especially if the decision is made before reaching ESRD, also known as stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD). While a kidney transplant is considered the best treatment option for ESRD whenever possible, dialysis will likely be necessary in the waiting period before surgery.

What to consider when choosing a dialysis option

When choosing a kidney failure treatment, there are lifestyle factors that may help you and your doctor determine your best option. The more your treatment fits your life, the more likely you are to stay on track—and thrive.
Factors to Consider At-Home
Dialysis
In-Center
Dialysis
In-Center
Overnight
(Nocturnal)
Dialysis
You are employed or attending school FT/PT  
You travel daily or frequently take overnight trips    
You’re a parent with dependent children or you’re a care partner  
You want to avoid travel time to and from a clinic    
You want to take an active, hands-on role in your care    
You want freedom and control over your treatments    
You enjoy the comfort of your home    
You want trained medical personnel to administer your dialysis treatment  
You want to be around other people receiving treatment for kidney disease    
You need help learning, remembering or performing manual tasks  
You have trouble keeping up with housework and cleaning  
You do not want dialysis supplies or equipment in your home  
You want more flexibility in what you can eat and drink    
You are socially active and prefer to dialyze at night  
You are young and otherwise healthy, without any other serious health conditions  
You want the treatment most similar to your body's natural function    

PRINT OUT THE TREATMENT DECISION GUIDE NOW

Start a conversation about dialysis options with your doctor, using our handy chart of lifestyle considerations.
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CONSIDERING AT-HOME DIALYSIS? YOU CAN DO IT.

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What to know about a kidney transplant

Kidney transplant is the best treatment option for treating ESRD whenever possible. A successful kidney transplant is closest to your natural kidney function—and with today's advances in technology, donor matching and surgery, many people with kidney disease are living longer, healthier lives.

Keep in mind that the kidney transplant option depends heavily on certain factors:

  • Your overall health
  • A good kidney donor match
  • Timing

Be sure to discuss transplant pros and cons with your doctor. Because there's often a wait before surgery, it's also helpful to talk about dialysis options you may need in the meantime.


Learn more about kidney transplant considerations here.

Considering supportive care without dialysis

Sometimes dialysis or a transplant just isn’t the right course of action for someone with ESRD. Supportive care without dialysis, also called palliative care, is an option that focuses on maintaining quality of life while treating the pain and stress of ESRD—rather than treating to prolong life.

Considerations such as other serious health conditions, life preferences or religious beliefs may influence this treatment decision. It's a choice that should be discussed in-depth with your doctor and close family members.

Learn more about considerations for supportive or palliative care here.

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