When your kidneys fail and can no longer remove toxins and waste from the body, you will need to consider medical options for removing those toxins before they become harmful. One of those options is dialysis. Dialysis artificially takes the place of your kidneys.
More than half of all patients who are on dialysis for the treatment of end stage renal disease (ESRD) choose in-center hemodialysis.
With this type of dialysis, you travel to a dialysis center to have your blood filtered by a dialysis machine. Over an average of three to four hours, your blood is passed through tubes into a filter called a dialyzer. It is also known as an “artificial kidney.”
Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital operate four dialysis centers, two of them in partnership with BJC HealthCare and Davita. All centers are open six days a week, Monday through Saturday. Around major holidays, the centers may also be open on Sundays.
While the majority of dialysis centers are open from early morning to late afternoon or early evening, one site – the West Healthcare Dialysis Unit at 400 N. Lindbergh – offers evening and overnight hours three days a week (M, W, F) through its Nocturnal Dialysis Program.
Most patients in the United States choose to receive dialysis treatments in a hemodialysis center near where they live. A hemodialysis center usually has 12 to 32 dialysis stations. Nurses or dialysis technicians perform the treatment while patients sit in reclining chairs.
Hemodialysis treatments are usually given three times a week for about 3 ½ hours. Most centers schedule dialysis treatment on Monday, Wednesday, Friday or on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Appointment times for treatments are usually from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm.
In-center hemodialysis can be reassuring to patients because immediate expert help is always at hand.
Experienced dialysis nurses and technicians are available to answer questions and handle any complications that may arise. A renal care physician, or nephrologist, is also available for consultations.
Another advantage is that you will not have to worry about receiving and storing adequate dialysis supplies in your home.
The challenges with in-center hemodialysis include arranging transportation and making sure you are at the center three times per week as scheduled. It is critical not to miss any of your scheduled sessions.