Dialysis — Hemodialysis, Peritoneal Dialysis, Nocturnal Dialysis and Home Hemodialysis

People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) can progress to kidney failure, also known as end stage renal disease (ESRD). At this stage, overall kidney function is not adequate to maintain your health and life. Treating ESRD requires renal replacement therapy, including dialysis or transplantation. Your nephrologist will help you choose the right type of dialysis for you – hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, nocturnal dialysis or home hemodialysis.


Hemodialysis is a process of removing waste products, chemical substances and extra fluid from your body through an artificial kidney (dialyzer). This type of dialysis is usually done three times per week at a specialized dialysis center. Each dialysis session takes an average of four hours. Hemodialysis requires an ”access” to get your blood cleaned. This access may be a fistula, graft, or dialysis catheter.

  • A fistula is created by joining an artery to a vein under the skin of your arm and is the preferred type of access.
  • A graft is created if your blood vessels are not adequate for a fistula, and uses a small plastic tube to join an artery and vein under your skin.
  • A hemodialysis catheter may also be needed until a permanent access can be used. A catheter is a narrow, plastic tube that is inserted in a large neck vein and is used temporarily.

Please note: Renal Specialists of Houston physicians serve as medical directors for dialysis centers all over the Houston metropolitan area. We will arrange dialysis treatments at the center that is most convenient for you.

Nocturnal Dialysis

Nocturnal dialysis is a version of hemodialysis that is done overnight at the dialysis unit. Instead of a typical four-hour treatment, nocturnal hemodialysis patients receive seven-to-eight hours of dialysis three times each week. This longer version provides additional blood cleaning and is more like normal renal function. Often, nocturnal dialysis patients are able to use less of their medications and report feeling better overall. Nocturnal dialysis requires the use of a permanent access like a fistula or graft.

Home Hemodialysis

Home hemodialysis is simply what it implies. It is another version of hemodialysis that allows the patient to receive hemodialysis treatment at home. This often requires intensive training and the assistance of a designated caregiver.

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis is similar to hemodialysis – it is a process of removing waste products, chemical substances and extra fluid from your body. It is different because it uses a catheter inserted into your abdomen (peritoneum) as the access. During the treatment or exchange, about two quarts of fluid, called dialysate, runs into your abdomen through the catheter and remains there for three to five hours. It is then drained out. This drained fluid takes the waste products and extra water from your blood. Peritoneal dialysis is done seven days a week at your home. There are two types of peritoneal dialysis: Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) and Continuous Cyclic Peritoneal Dialysis (CCPD).

Can dialysis help cure kidney disease?

Unfortunately, no. Dialysis does some of the work of healthy kidneys, but it does not cure your kidney disease. You will continue to need dialysis treatments unless you receive a kidney transplant.