Renal Replacement Therapy
Renal Replacement Therapy is the major form of treatment for patients with ESRD. It is either artificial and intermittent (hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis) or biologic and continuous (kidney transplantation), both of which aim to replace some of the functions of the diseased kidneys such as removing excess wastes and fluids, and keeping the balance of electrolytes appropriate. While not a cure, it is a life-sustaining process to keep you live as best as you can.
Hemodialysis (HD) is a process where "unclean" blood is machine-pumped out from the patient and circulated through plastic tubings connected to his vascular access (arteriovenous fistula or AVF, or graft) for "cleaning" by an artificial kidney (dialyzer) over 3-4 hours each day, 2-3 times a week. Fluid retained during the interval between treatments is also removed during the process. HD is the predominant technique for treating ESRD worldwide.
Peritoneal dialysis (PD), an alternative to HD, is a form of treatment where the patient's abdomen is used as an artificial kidney to "clean" the blood. Waste products and excess fluids go from the blood to a clean, commercially prepared fluid that is infused into and drained from (one exchange) the abdominal cavity via a plastic tubing (peritoneal catheter) implanted into the abdomen. The number of exchanges may range from once a day while the patient sleeps at night, up to 3-4 times the whole day.