Mar. 14 – Kidney Treatment Home Therapies

Hemodialysis is a treatment that replaces the work of your own kidneys to clear wastes and extra fluid from your blood.

This is done using a special filter called a dialyzer or artificial kidney. Your blood travels through plastic tubing to the dialyzer, where it is cleaned and then returned to you.

At the beginning of each treatment, two needles are placed into your access. These needles are connected to the plastic tubing that carries your blood to the dialyzer. Only a small amount of blood is out of your body at any one time. The dialysis machine pumps your blood through the dialysis system and controls the treatment time, temperature, fluid removal and pressure.

This basic process is the same for home hemodialysis, except that you and a care partner are trained to do your treatment at home.

You can do hemodialysis at a dialysis center where a nurse or technician performs the tasks required during treatment. In-center hemodialysis is usually done three times a week for about three to four hours or longer each session. In-center treatments are done at a pre-scheduled time.

You can also do hemodialysis at home where you are the one doing your treatment. At home, you may be better able to fit your treatments into your daily schedule. Studies show that the more you know about your treatment and the more you do on your own, the better you are likely to do on dialysis.

Three types of hemodialysis can be performed at home. They are:

Conventional home hemodialysis: You do this three times a week for three to four hours or longer each time. You and your care partner are trained to do dialysis safely and to handle any problems that may come up. Training may take from several weeks to a few months.

  1. Short daily home hemodialysis: This is usually done five to seven times a week using new machines designed for short daily home treatment. Treatments usually last about two hours each. You and your care partner are trained over several weeks. Because you are doing dialysis more often, less fluid generally needs to be removed each time. This reduces symptoms like headaches, nausea, cramping and feeling “washed out” after treatment.
  2. Nocturnal home hemodialysis: Long, slow treatments done at night while you sleep. You may do this kind of dialysis six nights a week or every other night. This depends on what your doctor prescribes for you. Treatments usually last about six to eight hours. You and your care partner are trained over several weeks. Some centers monitor your treatments by sending information from your dialysis machine to a staffed location by telephone modem or the Internet. More hours of dialysis each week can result in more waste removal.
  3. It is also possible to combine daily and nocturnal home hemodialysis. Whether you can combine treatments depends on your needs, your medical condition and your machine.

Whatever treatment option you choose, it is important to know if you are getting the right amount of dialysis. Tests should be done regularly to check the amount of dialysis you receive. For more information, speak with your doctor and your dialysis care team.

As always visit kidneymd.org for information

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