Understanding Kidney Dialysis

What is kidney dialysis?

Kidney dialysis is a treatment used to filter harmful wastes and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys cannot do it on their own. Dialysis takes the place of many vital kidney functions and restores the blood to a normal, healthy state.

Who needs kidney dialysis?

People who suffer from conditions such as kidney disease and kidney failure have difficulty with normal kidney function. When the kidneys don’t work properly, severe and sometimes fatal consequences can occur. Harmful substances can build up in the body, blood pressure can increase, and excess fluid can gather in the body’s tissues. Dialysis is usually recommended when you’ve lost about 85 to 90 percent of your kidney function.

Types of kidney dialysis

There are two types of kidney dialysis. These include:


Hemodialysis uses a machine to filter the blood properly. Prior to your first hemodialysis session, an entrance to one of your blood vessels is created, called vascular access. This allows the body to be connected to the dialysis machine. The blood is removed a little at a time and then returned when it’s clean. Dialysis treatments are usually scheduled a few times each week.

Peritoneal dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis cleans the blood using the lining of the abdominal region as a filter. This method allows for the blood to be cleaned while performing normal daily tasks like sleeping or working.

Similar to hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis requires a procedure to create access to clean the blood. Through a small incision, a flexible catheter is inserted into the abdominal area that envelops the stomach and organs, also called the peritoneal cavity.

Once the procedure is complete, you will be instructed how to place the cleaning solution (dialysate) into the catheter. The treatment has three main steps:

  • Fill – The cleaning solution moves through the catheter into the abdominal region.
  • Dwell – Waste products and extra fluid in the blood flow through the thin tissue that lines the peritoneal cavity and are extracted into the cleaning solution. This process takes anywhere from four to six hours.
  • Drain – The wastes and extra fluid are removed from the body by draining the cleaning solution.

There are two options to peritoneal dialysis:

  • Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) – The dialysis solution is placed directly into the catheter, allowing you to go about your everyday activities.
  • Continuous cycler-assisted peritoneal dialysis (CCPD) – A machine is used to fill and drain the cleaning solution from your abdominal region, usually conducted while you sleep.

You don’t have to tackle kidney disease and kidney failure on your own. The physicians at South Texas Renal Care Group are here to provide experienced, compassionate care for you during this difficult time. Call (210) 390-0944 to make your appointment today.

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South Texas Renal Care Group offers everything from diagnostic testing and dialysis to guidance on kidney transplantation and clinical trial opportunities, right here in our modern, comfortable offices. We have many locations throughout San Antonio and South Texas, so you can spend less time traveling and more time focusing on your health.

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At South Texas Renal Care Group, you have our undivided attention every step of the way. You’ll receive the expert treatment you need and the personal care and attention you deserve.