Treatment and Dialysis

Kidney Disease Treatment

The early stages of kidney disease can sometimes be slowed with the use of medications and diet. As the disease progresses to later stages and the kidneys become less functional, there are two treatment options available: dialysis and kidney transplant.

Kidney Dialysis

Dialysis uses a machine that functions like an artificial kidney to clean your blood. It removes waste products and extra fluids, keeps important chemicals flowing through your blood and controls blood pressure. There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

Dialysis can extend your life, makes you feel better and improves your health. The number of treatments you need will depend upon how well your kidneys are functioning – which varies from patient to patient. Dialysis can be done at any of our dialysis locations throughout the Central Indiana area, at a hospital or in your home. The location will depend on your own personal situation and the type of dialysis you have.


A hemodialysis machine uses a filter called a dialyzer to clean your blood. Before undergoing dialysis, a surgeon will create an “entrance” (or access point) into your blood vessels to accommodate the dialyzer. This is typically performed with minor surgery, usually somewhere on your arm. One option is a fistula – which joins an artery to a vein in order to create a larger blood vessel. If you are not a candidate for the fistula, a graft can be performed, which joins an artery to a vein using a small synthetic tube. This tube is placed under your skin.

Both the fistula and skin graft procedures require time to heal before you undergo dialysis treatments. Once you begin dialysis, a needle will be placed into both the vein and artery access points mentioned above at the start of each treatment. The needles will each be connected to a plastic tube. One tube will carry your blood to the dialyzer to be cleaned, and the other tube will send the cleaned blood back to you.

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis utilizes a tube that is surgically placed inside the abdomen (stomach area) to clean the blood. During this type of dialysis, a fluid called dialysate is injected through a tube and into the abdomen. This fluid collects the blood’s waste products and is drained out after several hours. Typically, several cycles of this process are needed.


For patients who require short-term dialysis, a soft tube called a catheter can be placed inside a large vein in the neck or chest. Catheters can be connected directly to the dialysis tubes mentioned previously, and needles are not needed. Catheters can also be used as a permanent entrance or access point when a fistula or graft cannot be placed, but are not intended to be a long-term solution.

Kidney Transplant

Kidney transplantation information is covered on the “Kidney Transplant” section of our website.