In hemodialysis, your blood is cleaned outside your body as it passes through a special filter called an artificial kidney, or dialyzer. A hemodialyzer is used to remove waste and extra chemicals and fluid from your blood. To get your blood into the artificial kidney, the doctor needs to make an access (entrance) into your blood vessels. This is done by minor surgery to your arm or leg. Sometimes, an access is made by joining an artery to a vein under your skin to make a bigger blood vessel called a fistula. However, if your blood vessels are not adequate for a fistula, the doctor may use a soft plastic tube to join an artery and a vein under your skin. This is called a graft. Occasionally, an access is made by means of a narrow plastic tube, called a catheter, which is inserted into a large vein in your neck. This type of access may be temporary, but is sometimes used for long-term treatment.
How long do hemodialysis treatments last?
The time needed for your dialysis depends on:
- How well your kidneys work
- How much fluid weight you gain between treatments
- How much waste you have in your body
- How big you are
- The type of artificial kidney used
Usually, each hemodialysis treatment lasts about four hours and is done three times per week.