What to Expect

Hemodialysis is a therapy that filters waste, removes extra fluid and balances electrolytes (sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, chloride, calcium, magnesium and phosphate).

How is Hemodialysis Done?

During dialysis, your blood is pumped through a filter called a dialyzer. The dialyzer has two compartments separated by a membrane. Blood flows through one side. A solution called dialysate circulates on the other side of the membrane. As blood flows through, waste products and excess fluid filter through the membrane and transfer to the dialysate side. The waste-filled dialysate is removed and replaced by fresh solution throughout your dialysis treatment. Your doctor will prescribe how long your treatment sessions will last.

dialysis square photo

When you arrive, you will have your weight checked. This is very important to determine the settings on your dialysis machine for removal of excess fluid in your blood. Drinks and ice intake will be strictly monitored while on dialysis. Once you enter the dialysis area you will not be allowed to drink any fluid (including ice) until your treatment is started and your technician has given you the okay. You will be weighed again after your dialysis is completed.

Patients typically have two concerns with dialysis “” how long will it take and how will the blood be taken out of my body and returned?

How Long Will Dialysis Take?

You need to schedule time for your dialysis. The process will not be complete in a couple of minutes; it takes several hours to get all of your blood filtered during each treatment session. Typically, in-center hemodialysis is done three times a week for three to four hours per treatment. The actual time will depend upon your body size, overall medical condition, and your laboratory blood test results.

Appointments are usually set up in shifts at each dialysis center. You will be scheduled the same time each day for your treatments. The center staff will do their best to accommodate work schedules. Typical treatment schedules have patients coming to the dialysis centers either Mon/Wed/Fri or Tues/Thurs/Sat.