Treatment Options

There are many effective treatment options and plans for people with Kidney Disease. Truthfully, there is no one option that is going to be best for everyone. Before you choose the therapy option that is right for you, you and your ARA physician and healthcare team will need to explore together which one is best suitable for you. Also, before you choose which particular therapy is right for you, it might be beneficial to talk with people that have had the similar experience.

There are three options for you when you’ve reached the stage of needing treatment. They are HemodialysisPeritoneal Dialysis, and Kidney Transplantation. And no matter which of the options you choose, you will begin to feel better. As you get a chance to speak to others, that are either in treatment or transplanted, you might be amazed at how most people have fit dialysis into their lives.

Now that you are in the process of choosing the right option for you, just remember that over the course of your life you may end up using more than one therapy. Your health or lifestyle may change and this might affect a treatment change, as well. You may choose that a Kidney Transplant will be the best route, but you may have to start on a dialysis route first. As you pursue the process of getting actively placed on the Kidney Transplant list or have a living donor offer to be evaluated, you will need to be treated. Some patients do not choose to pursue a Kidney Transplant until later or at all.


Hemodialysis (HD) is where your blood is filtered outside your body.  Blood travels through tubes from the body, cycles through a special filter (called the dialyzer), then goes back into the body. This continuous cycling of your blood allows the filter to remove waste products and excess fluid. Though it can vary based on the dialysis machine in use, there is approximately one cup of blood outside the body at any point during treatment.

In-center hemodialysis includes 3 treatments per week (on average) for 3 to 5 hours for each treatment. This varies by patient based on individual needs determined by the nephrologist.

Home Hemodialysis

Home hemodialysis combines the use of a dialysis machine with the convenience of being at home for improved quality of life and the ability to control your own schedule. Home hemodialysis includes 3 to 6 treatments per week (on average), with 3 to 5 hours for each treatment. This varies by patient based on individual needs determined by the nephrologist. Similar to in-center care, blood travels through tubes from the body, cycles through a special filter (called the dialyzer) to remove waste and excess fluid, and is sent back into the body.

Home hemodialysis treatments require specialized training for both the patient and a caregiver or loved one, who is referred to as the “care partner.” There are also strict considerations for the home environment that need to be met, such as room for supply storage, adequate electrical wiring and a dependable water source.

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is a process where your blood is cleaned inside your body. PD is performed at home by you. This therapy is expected to be performed every day. You may have your family member or friend assist you in this process, but it’s not required. There are two types of PD; one treatment is a manual process, usually performed during the day but is very flexible, meeting your daily work or home hours, and the other is an automated, slower process that is delivered while you sleep.

Determining which option of treatment will best fit your needs is an important decision. Take time to research and discuss the options with your family, your ARA nephrologist and healthcare team. You will need to consider your medical and physical condition, your lifestyle, the distance from your home to an in-center unit, the physical space for supplies for home therapy, and whether you will have a support person to assist. Remember, it’s your life, your body, your decision.