Your kidneys filter excess waste and fluid from your body. When your kidneys are damaged to the point they can no longer remove this waste and fluid, you need dialysis.

Dialysis is the filtering of waste and excess fluid from the body with the assistance of a medical device. You can think of dialysis as a washer and a dryer — the washer cleans the toxins out of your body, and the dryer removes the extra fluid. There are two kinds of dialysis:

  • Hemodialysis – During hemodialysis, blood is removed from your body through a port. The blood runs through a machine to filter out waste and water, then the blood is returned to your body. Hemodialysis is typically performed three days a week. About 80-90% of dialysis in the United States is done through hemodialysis.
  • Peritoneal dialysis – During peritoneal dialysis, fluid is infused into a cavity in your abdomen through a port. This helps create more opportunity for waste and excess water to be filtered within your body. This fluid is then manually drained. Peritoneal dialysis has to be done daily.

Overview of home dialysis

Technological and medical advancements have made it possible to undergo dialysis treatments within the comfort of your home. If you want to transition to home dialysis, you’ll have the guidance and support of the team at Ohio State. You’ll start with dialysis at Ohio State, where nurses will teach you how to complete the process independently.

For several weeks, you’ll learn and then perform the steps for the nurses to make sure you’ve mastered the process before transitioning to dialysis at home. Nurses will come to your home for an initial visit to make sure everything is set up correctly, and they’ll return for follow-up home visits as needed.

The dialysis nurses are available 24/7 to help. You’ll still come to Ohio State for dialysis once or twice per month so that nurses and doctors can better monitor your care.

Benefits of home dialysis

  • Flexibility. You can complete dialysis when it works best with your schedule.
  • Convenience. You don’t have to travel several times a week for dialysis.
  • Family assistance. Completing dialysis at home gives more opportunities for your family to be involved in your care.
  • Commitment to health. Completing dialysis at home gives you more independence and responsibility for your own health.
  • 24/7 support from Ohio State. Nurses and staff at Ohio State are available around the clock to answer questions and provide help.

Conditions treated

Patients who have kidney failure or end-stage renal disease need dialysis to survive. Home dialysis may be a good fit if you’re motivated and capable of taking responsibility for your own care.

Home dialysis: What to expect

Hemodialysis

A dialysis machine about the size of a large microwave will be set up in your home, and you’ll use it about three days a week.

Hemodialysis requires vascular access, or access to your blood stream. A vein in your arm will be surgically connected to an artery to make it larger. This vein will then be used as the access point for the machine to filter your blood.

You’ll attach the machine to your arm, where your blood will be pumped into the machine. The blood will be bathed in a cleansing liquid that pulls out toxins and excess fluid, then returns the blood to your arm.

Peritoneal dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis uses the body’s own tissue and capillaries to remove toxins and fluids from the blood. Peritoneal dialysis requires access to the peritoneal cavity, which is essentially a water balloon in your stomach that holds organs.

You’ll have a port placed in your abdomen, which you’ll connect to a dialysis machine about the size of a small microwave. Fluid will be pumped from the machine into the peritoneal cavity and will sit for a few hours. This increased amount of fluid promotes the capillaries in the abdomen to filter excess waste and fluid from the bloodstream. The infused fluid is then manually drained from the abdomen.

Peritoneal dialysis can be done overnight while you’re sleeping.

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