• Medical Reviewing Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What are the advantages of the different types of dialysis?

Each of the two types of dialysis, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, has advantages and disadvantages. It is up to the patient and their kidney doctor to decide which of these procedures is best by considering her/his life style, other medical conditions, support systems, and how much responsibility and participation in the treatment program he/she desires. The patient must realize that because of their specific medical condition, they may not be a candidate for one or the other type of dialysis. Each patient must view the two types of dialysis procedures from her/his own perspective.

Regardless of which type of dialysis is chosen , patients have certain responsibilities such as following a diet program, watching their fluid intake and taking special vitamins and other medicines to control blood pressure and calcium and phosphorus balance.

For many patients, the major advantage of hemodialysis is minimal participation in the treatment. However, patients are required to adhere to a specific schedule and travel to the dialysis unit three times a week. Hemodialysis also requires stricter diet control and fluid control than peritoneal dialysis.

For those patients preferring more independence, peritoneal dialysis allows for more flexible scheduling and can be performed at home. The patient must undergo a certain amount of dialysis each day, but can alter the exact timing of the dialysis procedure.

A major problem with peritoneal dialysis is infection. The patient has a plastic tube that goes from the peritoneal cavity to the outside of the body and this is a potential site for the entry of bacteria into the body. Great emphasis is placed on cleanliness and technique during the training sessions.

How can patients learn more about dialysis?

As a patient approaches dialysis, there are numerous sources of information. The doctor often has access to training videos that explain the dialysis techniques and their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Throughout the country are regional units of the National Kidney Foundation. These can be contacted, either through your physician or by contacting local dialysis units.

The National Kidney Foundation
30 East 33rd St.
New York, NY 10016
(800) 622-9010

The American Association of Kidney Patients is an active association of patients and families involved with dialysis and a very good source of information.

American Association of Kidney Patients
3505 E. Frontage Rd., Ste. 315
Tampa, FL 33607
800-749-2257 (direct)
813-636-8122 (fax)

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


"Dialysis modality and patient outcome"

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/12/2015
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