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Home Hemodialysis

Hemodialysis is a process of cleaning and filtering the blood using a dialysis machine (a "man made kidney"). For people with renal failure, dialysis is lifesaving. (This posting will only discuss hemodialysis. Peritoneal dialysis is another form of dialysis that works equally well.)

SL Package Previously, hemodialysis was only performed in dialysis centers. Typically, dialysis centers are large rooms with twenty or more dialysis machines, nurses, technicians, doctors, and other staff. In the United States, patients usually travel to these centers three times a week and spend three to four hours per dialysis session.

In the last few years, hemodialysis performed at home has become more popular. Dialysis machines were previously large and difficult to transport. Recently, these machines have become more compact, making dialysis at home (or even mobile dialysis) more practical.

Home hemodialysis also offers more flexible treatment options than "in-center" dialysis. In addition to three times a week dialysis for three to four hours, other options include
  • short daily dialysis, five or six times a week, for two to three hours a session
  • nocturnal dialysis, performed while sleeping, for six to eight hours a night, three or more nights a week
Some data suggests that patient outcomes may be better with daily dialysis and nocturnal dialysis compared with three times a week dialysis.

The NxStage System One is an example of a compact, portable, easy to use home dialysis machine. The machine weighs about 75 pounds. More information may be found here.

Related Information: Kidney Replacement Therapies
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About the Author


Dr. Schwimmer's blog explores the intersection of medicine, new technologies, and the Internet.