Medical Technology

Weighing the Advantages and Disadvantages of Kidney Dialysis Methods

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Kidney problems can progress to such an extent that the organs no longer perform the function of filtering wastes from the body. This build-up of waste products in the body can cause serious medical problems from high blood pressure, fluid retention and diminished red blood cells. Dialysis equipment was invented to filter these waste products from the body, allowing patients to live active, normal lives.

About Kidney Dialysis

Dialysis is a process developed in the 1960s in which the wastes and excess fluid from the blood when kidneys do not function as they do normally. Dialysis is done by injecting a unique liquid called a dialysate, a combination of water and carefully measured chemicals that removes the wastes from the patient’s blood without removing other compounds needed to maintain health. A semi-permeable membrane that allows only some kinds of material in is used to keep blood and the dialysate separate. The fluids and wastes travel into the dialysate without removing blood cells or proteins. Patients can choose from a number of dialysis methods depending on their physician’s recommendations.


Hemodialysis cleans wastes from the blood by filtering out toxic compounds and excess fluids. The doctor must make a vascular access point from which the blood can exit and return to the body. The blood enters a filtering system in the dialysis machine where it is flushed with dialysis fluid. The blood is then returned to the body, cleaned of waste products.

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis works a bit differently. Like hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis uses a semi-permeable membrane and depends on the passive movement of water and dissolved solutes to remove wastes. Peritoneal dialysis uses the abdominal cavity, or peritoneum, as the exchange membrane. This type of dialysis is a slower and more gradual process. A small tube, or catheter, is placed surgically in the abdomen. The abdominal cavity is then filled with dialysis solution. This solution remains in the body for a period of time removing wastes and excess fluid. It is then drained from the body and a fresh solution is introduced into the body. The patient can do this himself with special equipment and training.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hemodialysis

The advantage of choosing hemodialysis is that the patient only needs the treatment 3 times each week, leaving 4 days each week free to spend time as they like without worrying about setting a time for dialysis treatment. The disadvantage is that you must use be connected to a dialysis machine for 4 hours on treatment days, making travel more difficult. Though patients can pre-arrange treatments at their destination, it makes travel plans more complicated. Hemodialysis also requires that you restrict food and fluids strictly, which can be uncomfortable.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Peritoneal Dialysis

The advantage of peritoneal dialysis is that the patient does not have to interrupt his schedule 3 times each week to connect to a dialysis machine. He does not have to travel to a dialysis center. The dialysis equipment is more compact and can be operated by the patient more easily. Peritoneal dialysis also requires fewer restrictions on diet and fluid intake. The disadvantages include having to do the procedure every day instead of 3 times a week and the risk of infection in the peritoneum.

The physician may advise one type of dialysis over another, depending on whether other health conditions are present. Regardless of which method is chosen, patients quickly become accustomed to fitting this important medical procedure into their daily lives.

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