For those new to the world of dialysis, the procedure can be quite intimidating and confusing. Add to the fear and the anxiety that comes from not-knowing what to expect, the sheer volume of medical terms and clinical lingo, and dialysis patients and caregivers can get understandably confused. The types of dialysis and their function are just the tip of the iceberg of the details that caregivers and patients both should familiarize themselves with.

Put it simply dialysis is an artificial system used to clean a patient’s blood. The two main types of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. These are used most often on patients with end-stage renal disease.


The hemodialysis form of the blood-cleansing procedure is performed with special machinery and tubes that pull blood from the body, pass it through a filter and return it through another set of tubes. Usually performed two to three times per week, hemodialysis treatments are often completed in an outpatient center. Patients that are recommended hemodialysis care often need to undergo prior surgery in order to connect an artery and vein within a limb. This is required as hemodialysis has to be performed with the aid of a fistula, catheter or graft.

Peritoneal Dialysis

This form of dialysis is completed with the help of a solution of minerals and glucose that is run through a tube into the peritoneal cavity. The solution remains within the peritoneal membrane where it absorbs waste products from the body’s systems. That waste is then drained from the body out through the tube. These treatments are performed several times a day at home but under the supervision of dialysis staff.

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