Dialysis: Here's What You Need to Know

When patients with advanced kidney disease learn they need dialysis, Dr. Obinna Nwobi and the team at Vein Health Clinics are the first to join their treatment team. We provide the first critical step — creating a stable and easy way to connect you with your dialysis treatment, whatever method you choose.

We don’t just give you dialysis access and disappear. Throughout your treatment, we ensure your access stays clear and healthy. Here’s a rundown on the types of dialysis you can receive and the access we need to create to make sure you can continue to thrive and live an active life.

Choosing where and how to get dialysis

Dialysis takes over for your failing kidneys, filtering wastes from your blood so you can stay healthy. Not long ago, there was only one way to get dialysis: Go to your nearest hospital and use their dialysis machine. While that’s still a great option, today you can also choose to do your own dialysis at home. 

There are two basic types of dialysis:

Hemodialysis

During hemodialysis, you’re connected to a machine called a dialyzer. Two needles are inserted into blood vessels in your arm. A tube attached to one needle carries your blood to the dialyzer, your blood is filtered as it travels through the machine, then the filtered blood returns to your body through another tube that’s attached to the second needle.

Hemodialysis is the type of dialysis performed in hospitals and clinics. You typically need to have your treatment three times a week, with each session lasting 3-4 hours.

You can also get dialyzers to use at home. If you choose this option, you’ll receive thorough training from the team at your local hemodialysis center.

With home-based hemodialysis, you have three treatment options:

Peritoneal dialysis

This type of dialysis is always done at home rather than in the medical clinic. During peritoneal dialysis, a tube carries a cleaning solution called dialysate into your abdomen. The fluid stays in place for a specific length of time while it absorbs wastes from your blood. Then you drain the fluid and refill your abdomen with fresh dialysate. Each fluid exchange (fill, drain, and refill) takes about 30 minutes.

You can do peritoneal dialysis by hand or using a machine, either during the day or at night. At night, the machine performs several fluid exchanges while you sleep. During the day, you follow a schedule prescribed by your physician.

Learning about dialysis access

We perform a minor surgical procedure to create your dialysis access. You receive one of two types:

Arteriovenous (AV) access

If you’re getting hemodialysis, you’ll need AV access, which we create by connecting an artery to a vein. As a result, the vein enlarges and thickens, which makes it easy to insert needles and allows blood to flow more quickly through the dialyzer.

We may directly connect the artery and vein, a type of access called an AV fistula. Or, we may make an AV graft, using a tube to connect the blood vessels.

Peritoneal access

If you choose to use peritoneal dialysis, we insert a soft catheter, running the catheter from inside your abdomen to a small opening. The catheter remains in place so you have easy access for fluid exchanges.

No matter which type of dialysis access you receive, we teach you how to care for the access and we continue to perform regular maintenance. We make sure the access stays open and treat any problems that may arise, such as a blood clot or infection.

If you have any questions about dialysis or you need dialysis access, call one of our offices or schedule an appointment online.

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