What Is Dialysis?

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

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 kidney disease, 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.

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How does dialysis work?

Dialysis works by filtering toxins, waste and fluid from your blood through a semipermeable membrane. The 2 types of dialysis, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, use different methods to filter blood. With hemodialysis, the filtering membrane is called a dialyzer and is inside a dialysis machine. Your blood is circulated through the dialysis machine and cleaned before being returned to your body. With peritoneal dialysis, the filtering membrane is the natural lining of your peritoneum or abdomen and blood never leaves your body. Both types of dialysis also use a dialysate solution in the filtering process to remove unwanted substances from your bloodstream.
How dialysis works. Waste, toxins, and excess fluids go through dialysis to become chemically balanced blood and healthy amount of fluid.

What are the 2 types of dialysis?

Hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis are the 2 main kinds of dialysis. Both types of dialysis filter unwanted waste from your bloodstream. Depending on which type of dialysis you choose, you may also have options for treating in a center or at home.

Hemodialysis
Hemodialysis filters your blood through a dialysis machine. Once you are connected to the machine via your hemodialysis access, blood flows into the machine, gets filtered and is returned to your body. There is a choice in where you do hemodialysis and who performs the treatment. In-center hemodialysis is performed by a trained team of nurses and technicians. At-home hemodialysis can be performed in the comfort of your own home, either with the help of a care partner or on your own. See how hemodialysis machines work.

Peritoneal dialysis
Peritoneal dialysis uses the blood vessels in the lining of your abdomen—the body's natural filter—along with a solution called dialysate to filter blood via a peritoneal catheter. With this method, blood never leaves your body. Peritoneal dialysis can be done with a machine or manually at home, at work or even while traveling. See how peritoneal dialysis machines 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 time and frequency based on your unique health needs. It's important to complete your dialysis treatment exactly as prescribed to feel your best.

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Thriving on peritoneal dialysis since 2016.
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Thriving on hemodialysis since 2013.
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Dialysis Facts

What is dialysis: the facts at a glance

Kidney dialysis is a treatment that can help you live well with ESRD.

  • Dialysis can take the place of many healthy kidney functions.
  • 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 home dialysis, which can offer greater flexibility and better outcomes.
  • The best dialysis option for you is the one that best fits your lifestyle and health needs.
  • Many people switch dialysis types to fit a changing lifestyle at some point during long-term treatment.

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