What is dialysis?

Dialysis is a procedure that is done routinely on people who have acute or chronic kidney (renal) failure. The process involves removing waste substances and fluid from the blood that are normally eliminated by the kidneys. Dialysis may also be used for people who have been exposed to or ingested toxic substances to prevent kidney failure from occurring. There are 2 types of dialysis that may be done on your child: peritoneal or hemodialysis:

  • Peritoneal dialysis. Peritoneal dialysis is done by surgically placing a soft, hollow tube into your child's lower abdomen near the navel. After the tube is placed, a solution called dialysate is instilled into the peritoneal cavity. The peritoneal cavity is the space in the abdomen that houses the organs and is lined by two special membrane layers called the peritoneum. The dialysate is left in the abdomen for a designated time that will be determined by your child's doctor. The dialysate fluid absorbs the waste products and toxins through the peritoneum. The fluid is then drained from the abdomen, measured, and discarded. There are two different types of peritoneal dialysis: continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) and continuous cyclic peritoneal dialysis (CCPD):

    • CAPD does not require a machine. Exchanges, often referred to as passes, can be done 3 to 5 times a day, during waking hours.

    • CCPD requires the use of a special dialysis machine that can be used in the home. This type of dialysis is done automatically, even while your child is asleep.

  • Hemodialysis. Hemodialysis is done in a dialysis center or hospital by trained health care professionals. A special type of access, called an arteriovenous (AV) fistula, is placed surgically, usually, in your child's arm. This involves joining an artery and a vein together. An external, central, intravenous (IV) catheter may also be inserted, but is less common for long-term dialysis. After access has been established, your child will be connected to a large hemodialysis machine that drains your child's blood, bathes it in a special dialysate solution that removes waste substances and fluid, then returns it to your child's bloodstream. Hemodialysis is usually done several times a week and each session lasts for 4 to 5 hours. Because of the length of time hemodialysis takes, it may be helpful to bring games or reading materials for your child to keep him or her busy during this procedure.

Technologies for Dialysis

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What to Expect for Dialysis

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Side Effects and Risk Factors for Dialysis

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Education and Resources for Dialysis

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Learn more about Dialysis

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