What are the Different Types of Hemodialysis Treatment?

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  • Written By: Liz Fernandez
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2019
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Dialysis is used to treat kidney failure. It removes the waste and extra fluid in the body through the use of a filter. There are five different ways to undergo dialysis. These include hospital-based hemodialysis treatment, free-standing dialysis, self-care dialysis, short daily home hemodialysis and nocturnal home hemodialysis. Each type has benefits and disadvantages that patients need to weigh in order to choose the best option for their needs.

Many outpatient dialysis units are located in hospitals and provide hemodialysis treatment for critically ill patients. One advantage of this type of treatment is the staff provides any and all care related to the dialysis. Also, medical staff and emergency services are readily available to deal with any complications that arise. The disadvantage is that patients must schedule their treatments and will interact with different staff every day. They will also need to arrange travel to and from the hospital.

Free-standing hemodialysis treatment centers are typically run by physicians and private corporations. This option is more suitable for stable patients. In this setting, the staff provides all care related to the dialysis and they are on hand for any emergencies. Patients do have to arrange for travel to the center and may be cared for by different staff. They also have to work around the schedule of the center.


Self-care hemodialysis treatment units are located in hospitals or free-standing clinics. Patients are instructed on how to use the machines independently but are monitored and assisted by nursing staff. Advantages of this type of treatment include the patient having more control over the procedure and staying more informed about his or her health. The disadvantage is the added time needed to set up and dismantle the machine.

Short daily home hemodialysis treatment occurs in the home of the patient for about one to three hours, five to six times per week while the patient is awake. Patients opting for this course of treatment still require training and the help of a partner. This type of treatment helps patients maintain better blood pressure control and allows them to be more in control of their health. It also provides patients with a better quality of life because their days are free for other activities. The disadvantages include the initial training period, the amount of space required in the home for the dialysis machine, and the lack of trained nursing staff to help in the case of an emergency.

Nocturnal home hemodialysis treatments are given to patients at home for eight hours, four to six nights per week while patients sleep. This treatment is remotely monitored by a computer and most resembles the kidney’s normal functions because of the length of time it is administered. Patients benefit from better blood pressure control, fewer diet restrictions, fewer medications and an improved quality of life. This treatment does require training as well as space in the home for the dialysis machine.


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