Treatment Options

When your kidneys can no longer function, or fail, you need to consider other treatmentoptions so that the wastes and toxins normally filtered by the kidneys can be removed from your body. There are several options for treatment:

  • Dialysis
  • Hemodialysis
  • Peritoneal dialysis
  • Home hemodialysis
  • Kidney transplant

Your physician will work with you to determine your best option.

What is Dialysis?

When your kidneys fail to function properly and are unable to remove the toxins and wastes from your body, dialysis may be the next step. The good news is that thousands of people receive dialysis treatments each year and are able to continue work and maintain lifestyle activities.

Dialysis is a treatment which removes the harmful waste and excess fluid from the body.

There are three types of dialysis available:

  1. In-Center hemodialysis
  2. At-Home hemodialysis
  3. Peritoneal dialysis

During a hemodialysis treatment, you will be connected to a dialysis machine that mechanically separates the important components of your blood “” red and white blood cells, for example “” from harmful wastes, such as salt and urea.

The dialysis machine simply re-circulates your cleaned blood back into your body while filtering out the harmful products. Hemodialysis treatments can be done in an outpatient dialysis center or in the comfort of your own home.

Peritoneal dialysis is another form of dialysis which is done at home. With peritoneal dialysis, a catheter is placed in the abdomen. A special dialysis fluid is put through the catheter and allowed to sit in the abdomen for a period of time.

A membrane in the abdomen filters out the wastes and excess fluids. The fluid is then drained and new solution is placed in the abdomen.

We encourage you to learn about the various types of dialysis treatments available and select a treatment which best suits your lifestyle. Our goal is to prepare you for dialysis by attending educational classes and seeing a surgeon before you actually need dialysis. This will avoid urgent and unplanned dialysis in a hospital or emergency room.

Kidney Transplant

Another option for the treatment of end stage renal disease is a kidney transplant. If this option interests you, we have a comprehensive class available to go over medical criteria and what to expect.

Washington University/Barnes-Jewish Hospital has one of the largest and most experienced kidney transplant teams in the United States. We are pioneers in living donor kidney transplants and minimally invasive kidney transplant surgery. We also are proud to have one of the lowest rejection rates in the world.

More than 700 patients annually are evaluated in our transplant center for kidney transplant. Almost 200 transplants are performed each year. With a new kidney you have continuous cleansing of your blood so that waste is removed 24 hours a day. Successful transplants also mean freedom from having to undergo dialysis.

At Washington University/Barnes-Jewish Hospital, 60% of kidney transplants are from deceased donors; 40% from living donors. If you are considering a kidney transplant, please call us to learn more about the transplant program, 314-362-5365 or 1-800-633-9906.

More about the Kidney Transplant Program at Washington University.