Types of treatment
When severe loss of kidney function occurs, their function must be replaced. For many people a successful kidney transplant is the best way to do this. However, this treatment option is not possible for all patients and some patients have to wait a long time to receive a kidney transplant.
Where transplant is not possible, dialysis is used to replace some of the important lost functions of the kidneys. There are two main types of dialysis: Peritoneal dialysis and haemodialysis. These treatments have different impacts on daily life.
Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is performed at home. The therapy can either be performed over night for 8-10 hours or in 4 to 5 short procedures carried out over the day. This takes 1 to 2 hours per day to complete. Whichever way it is carried out peritoneal dialysis gives flexibility and can be fitted around work, family and social commitments. Usually patients come to the hospital outpatient clinic every 3-6 months for follow up. Many people on PD are able to enjoy a normal diet without too many restrictions, but may need to moderate certain types of food.
Haemodialysis (HD) is usually performed in hospital or in dialysis clinics 3 or possibly 4 or more times per week. The procedure usually takes a minimum of 4 hours but may take up to 6 hours. On top of the time for treatment the dialysis day also involves travel to and from hospital or clinic, waiting for treatment to start and waiting for transport home. In total hemodialysis in hospital can take many hours out of the day which has an impact on work, family and other commitments. Most people on hemodialysis also have to have restrictions on diet and fluid intake.
Sometimes other options for haemodialysis are available. These include self care or home dialysis and also daily or nocturnal dialysis. These options aim to increase flexibility, allow a normal diet without too many restrictions and promote the quality of life for a patient on dialysis.
Each type of dialysis has pros and cons and not all may be available in your dialysis clinic. By learning as much as you can about the types of dialysis, you will be able to make the best decision for yourself.