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Your Guide to Dialysis

a nurse taking notes in front of a dialysis machine

At Durham Nephrology, dialysis is at the core of our service offerings. We specialize in hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis and treat patients at six dialysis centers located throughout Durham and Granville counties. Dialysis is used to replace some of the functions of the kidneys in advanced stages of kidney disease. While a nephrologist will try and prevent kidney disease from progressing, in some cases, symptoms become so severe that medications are no longer a viable option. At this point, dialysis or kidney transplants can help save lives. Because dialysis is so central to what we do at Durham Nephrology, we are taking some time to break down the foundation of this kidney failure treatment and create an overall guide to dialysis.

What is dialysis?

Dialysis is defined as the process of artificially replacing the function of the kidneys. There are different settings in which dialysis can take place as well as different types of dialysis technology. If your nephrologist foresees dialysis as a possibility in the future, they may discuss what preparations are needed before beginning dialysis. This is because both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis require different access points, these areas should already be prepared and established before starting dialysis treatment. 

How does dialysis work?

One form of dialysis, hemodialysis, separates your blood into two groups. One group containing proteins, blood cells, and other important elements remain in your blood while other excess fluids and smaller waste products dialysate. When this process is complete, the clean blood is re-added to the body. Hemodialysis requires minor surgery, typically in the arm, to access the blood vessels. This type of dialysis is generally administered for four hours, three times per week. On the other hand, peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your belly to work as a natural filter instead of using an artificial kidney machine to filter your blood. Peritoneal dialysis requires the use of a small catheter and dialysate, a cleaning fluid, to assist in the filtering process. Once this process is complete, the excess fluid is eliminated from the body through the catheter.

How to know which type of dialysis is right for you

Hemodialysis is typically used for patients with a lower level of kidney function or those with any abdominal scarring. Hemodialysis may also be a preferred method for those who would rather have a professional medical assist with treatments. Peritoneal dialysis requires more intensive patient training and offers more continuous filtration, and limits disruption in day-to-day activities. Speaking with a doctor at Durham Nephrology can help guide you in choosing which form of dialysis works best for you.

Make an Appointment

At Durham Nephrology, we provide comprehensive care to patients in Durham and Oxford, NC with kidney disease and high blood pressure. Our team is experienced in providing treatment with hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. If you have questions about hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis, call us at 919-477-3005 to talk to a staff member and make an appointment

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