Hemodialysis Compared to Peritoneal Dialysis

Topic Overview

Hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis are both used to treat kidney failure. Hemodialysis uses a man-made membrane (dialyzer) to filter wastes and remove extra fluid from the blood. Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of the abdominal cavity (peritoneal membrane) and a solution (dialysate) to remove wastes and extra fluid from the body.

Each form of dialysis has its advantages and disadvantages.

Comparison of dialysis methods
  Hemodialysis Peritoneal dialysis
Advantages
  • It is most often done by trained health professionals who can watch for any problems.
  • It allows you to be in contact with other people having dialysis, which may give you emotional support.
  • You don't have to do it yourself, as you do with peritoneal dialysis.
  • You do it for a shorter amount of time and on fewer days each week than peritoneal dialysis.
  • It gives you more freedom than hemodialysis. It can be done at home or in any clean place. You can do it when you travel. You may be able to do it while you sleep. You can do it by yourself.
  • It doesn't require as many food and fluid restrictions as hemodialysis, and it does not use needles.
  • It doesn't require the use of blood thinners, so it may be a better choice if you have bleeding problems or take medicines that interfere with blood clotting.
Disadvantages
  • It causes you to feel tired on the day of the treatments.
  • It can cause problems such as low blood pressure and blood clots in the dialysis access.
  • It increases your risk of bloodstream infections.
  • It requires the use of blood thinners during the procedure, so it may not be the best choice if you have bleeding problems or take medicines that interfere with blood clotting.
  • The procedure may be hard for some people to do.
  • It increases your risk for an infection of the lining of the belly, called peritonitis.

Credits

Author Monica Rhodes
Editor Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Mitchell H. Rosner, MD - Nephrology
Last Updated September 17, 2009

Last Updated: September 17, 2009

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