A to Z Health Guide

Choosing Dialysis: Which type is right for me?

Choosing Dialysis: Which type is right for me?
There are 3 main types of dialysis: in-center hemodialysis, home hemodialysis, and peritoneal dialysis. Each type has pros and cons. It’s important to remember that even once you choose a type of dialysis, you always have the option to change, so you don't have to feel "locked in" to any one type of dialysis. There may be medical, health, or lifestyle reasons why a certain type of dialysis is not right for you. Be sure to learn about each type and speak to your healthcare professional to find out what is right for you. The charts below will help you to compare some of the pros and cons of the different types of dialysis.
Peritoneal Dialysis
Advantages
Disadvantages
  • Studies show PD patients live longer.
  • More mobility and flexibility
  • Easier to travel
  • Continuous dialysis can improve well-being
  • No machine required
  • May have fewer fluid and diet restrictions
  • No needles required
  • May live longer & healthier
  • Can be a good bridge to a kidney transplant
  • Can preserve vessels for future hemodialysis access.
  • Although PD is every day, it takes less time overall than going to a center (when you consider traveling to and from the center, waiting, recovery time).
  • Done every day; no days off
  • Catheter may affect body image
  • Swimming/bathing may be limited
  • Potential for weight gain due to glucose (sugar) in dialysis fluid
  • Blood glucose can be more difficult to control in diabetes.
  • Storage space is required at home for supplies and fluid.
  • Potential for infection in the catheter.
 
Home Hemodialysis
Advantages
Disadvantages
  • Studies show that having dialysis at home 5-7 times a week has dramatically better outcomes in every way, including longer life and better survival
  • You and your dialysis partner learn to do treatments without the in-center staff
  • Dialysis is done in the comfort of your own home.
  • No need to travel to a dialysis center
  • More flexibility to choose a convenient time of day to do dialysis
  • Greater sense of control from being independent and doing treatment yourself.
  • A dialysis partner must be present while you are on dialysis
  • Both you and your dialysis partner must take time off work or regular routine to attend training
  • Space in the home needs to be dedicated to the machine, water system (if needed) and supplies.
  • Special electricity and plumbing may be needed.
  • There are no medical professionals at home to monitor treatment or answer immediate questions (although you can call the center at any time and go to the center periodically to be checked).
 
In-Center Hemodialysis
Advantages
Disadvantages
  • Trained staff perform all aspects of treatment. (You may be able to do some things yourself like insert the needles.)
  • Since other people are dialyzing at the same time, friendship and camaraderie may develop.
  • Treatment day and times are scheduled by the center.
  • You must travel to the center at least three times weekly.
  • Other people are doing dialysis at same time, so you have less privacy
  • Loved ones can't be with you during treatment.
  • There may be rules against eating and drinking while on dialysis.
 

The information shared on our websites is information developed solely from internal experts on the subject matter, including medical advisory boards, who have developed guidelines for our patient content. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. No one associated with the National Kidney Foundation will answer medical questions via e-mail. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.