Types of Dialysis

Patients with kidney failure require specialized care to make the most of their remaining kidney function. With our expertise in kidney failure treatment, as well as specialized surgery, we offer each patient the best route to dialysis and beyond.

Learn more about kidney transplant and dialysis access.

Types of Dialysis Offered by UMMC

Dialysis is a device used to remove toxins from the blood when the kidneys cannot.

We offer:

  • Dialysis using a temporary catheter: You may initially receive dialysis via a temporary catheter. The catheter is a tube, about the size of an ink pen’s tube that travels through a vein toward the heart. Temporary catheters can be used for up to 90 days and then must be replaced to lower the risk of infection.
  • Hemodialysis: Ongoing dialysis (3 to 5 times a week) cleans your blood, usually in a dialysis center. The hemodialysis access is in your arm.
  • Peritoneal dialysis: Ongoing dialysis (daily) collects waste from the blood by washing the peritoneal cavity, or the empty space in the abdomen. The peritoneal dialysis access is in your abdomen.

For chronic, or ongoing, dialysis, you may have hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. Our surgeons perform surgery to create either type of access based on your individual needs and dialysis history. Meet our team.

Once this access is established, you can get rid of the temporary catheter.

What to Know About Hemodialysis

Hemodialysis cleans the blood by cycling your blood through a machine that removes waste and toxins. It then returns the blood to your body.

Here is how hemodialysis works:

  1. Hemodialysis requires an access portal created by a surgeon. A permanent access requires minor surgery, usually in your arm, to connect an artery and a vein. The access will be ready in a few weeks to a few months, depending on the type of portal. 
  2. While you wait for your permanent access, you may have a temporary catheter (tube), often in your neck. Some people on shorter-term dialysis only have a temporary access. It is very important to follow the guidelines to keep your catheter clean to avoid dangerous infections.
  3. A dialysis machine and a special filter called a dialyzer will wash away waste products from your blood and then return the blood to your body.
  4. You usually will receive dialysis in a clinical setting, such as a hospital or dialysis clinic. Most patients come to a dialysis clinic 3 to 5 times a week. 
  5. We can place the hemodialysis access portal via any available artery and vein. Our surgeons evaluate you to determine the best placement for the access portal. 
  6. The surgical procedure to place the catheter or access takes approximately 1 to 1.5 hours.

What to Know About Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis lets you perform dialysis at home or while you go about your day. Our surgeons can place the peritoneal catheter via laparoscopic surgery.

This procedure provides an option for patients who may have been told by other surgeons that they were inoperable.

Here is how peritoneal dialysis works:

  1. A surgeon places an access into the lining of the abdominal wall. You can use this access in about 2 weeks.
  2. You will be able to administer peritoneal dialysis without having to come into a dialysis clinic. Instead, you can do dialysis at home or any other clean place.
  3. In peritoneal dialysis, you fill your peritoneal cavity – the open spaces in the abdomen – with special cleansing dialysis fluid and drain it again. The fluid cleans your blood through the internal walls of your abdomen.
  4. Peritoneal dialysis options can be continual (ambulatory) or via a cycler, which can be used only at night. This option allows some patients to continue working while they are on dialysis.

Contact Us

For additional information about our kidney transplant program or to speak to someone about becoming a living kidney donor, please call 1-410-328-5408 or 1-800-492-5538.  

If you are interested in becoming a living kidney donor, please download our questionnaire.

For referring physicians

To refer a patient or get more information, please call 1-800-373-4111. A physician service representative from Consultation and Referral Services will direct your call to the appropriate physician or department.

For more details, please visit our section for referring physicians.