Kidney Failure Treatment Options - Comparison Chart

Treatment Schedule Location Availability Equipment and Supplies Training Required Diet Level of Freedom Level of Responsibility
In-Center Hemodialysis Three treatments a week for about 4 hours. Dialysis center. Available in most communities; may require travel in some rural areas. No equipment or supplies in the home. Little training required; clinic staff perform most tasks. Must limit fluids, sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. Little freedom during treatments. Greater freedom on nontreatment days. Some patients prefer to let clinic staff perform all tasks.
Home Hemodialysis More flexibility in determining your schedule of treatments. Home. More widely used as smaller and simpler machines are developed. Hemodialysis machine connected to plumbing, chair. You and a partner must attend several training sessions. Must limit fluids, sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. More freedom to set your own schedule. You’re still linked to a machine for several hours a week. You and your partner have to monitor vital signs and clean and set up equipment. Can be stressful on your partner.
Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) Four to six exchanges a day, every day. Any clean environment that allows solution exchanges. Widely available. Bags of dialysis solution take up storage space. You’ll need to attend several training sessions. You may need to bring a partner. Must limit sodium and calories. You can move around, exercise, work, drive, etc., with solution in your abdomen. You must perform exchanges four to six times a day, every day.
Automated Peritoneal Dialysis Three to five exchanges a night, every night, with an additional exchange begun first thing in the morning. Any clean environment that allows solution exchanges. Widely available. Cycling machine, bags of dialysis solution. You’ll need to attend several training sessions. You may need to bring a partner. Must limit sodium and calories. You’re linked to a machine during the night. You’re free from exchanges during the day. You must set up your cycler every night.
Kidney Transplant (Deceased Donor) You may wait several years before a suitable kidney is available.

After surgery, you’ll have regular checkups with your doctor.
The transplant surgery takes place in a hospital. Transplant centers are located throughout the country. However, the demand for kidneys is far greater than the supply. No equipment or supplies needed. You’ll need to learn about your medicines and when to take them. Fewer dietary restrictions. Offers the greatest amount of freedom. You must take anti-rejection medicines every day.
Kidney Transplant (Living Donor) If a friend or family member is donating, you can schedule the surgery when you’re both ready

After surgery, you’ll have regular checkups with your doctor.
The transplant surgery takes place in a hospital. Transplant centers are located throughout the country. However, the demand for kidneys is far greater than the supply. No equipment or supplies needed. You’ll need to learn about your medicines and when to take them. Fewer dietary restrictions. Offers the greatest amount of freedom. You must take anti-rejection medicines every day.
January 2018
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.