Normally, the kidneys work to filter out toxins from the blood. However, people who do not have kidneys that function properly need dialysis to keep their blood clean. Dialysis is a procedure that filters the blood by removing it from the body and running it through a machine. Once it is cleaned and purified, it is returned to the body.
The two main types of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
In hemodialysis, blood is taken out of the body to be filtered through a dialysis machine. The doctor will create a vascular access point in the blood vessels so that the blood can easily be taken in and out of the body. Typically, this type of treatment takes three to five hours and must be repeated at least three times per week in order to keep the kidneys and body healthy.
Peritoneal dialysis is a method that involves using the lining of the patient’s own abdomen to clean the blood. The doctor implants a catheter into the body, which allows blood to travel into the belly with the insertion of a special dialysis solution. This process must be performed several times a day.
Typically, people with kidney problems such as end-stage kidney disease or permanent kidney failure require dialysis. Not everyone with kidney disease requires dialysis; however, it is only recommended in those who have lost 85 to 90 percent of their kidney function.
If a person has kidney failure, she will need dialysis for the rest of her life unless she is able to get a kidney transplant. In some cases, the kidney can repair itself, making dialysis only necessary until the kidneys can function again. However, for most people, dialysis treatments can last for anywhere from five to 30 years until they are no longer effective.