Key messages

  • Public renal services in Victoria use different kinds of haemodialysis, which can be delivered in different settings.

Haemodialysis is a procedure used to maintain a patient with end-stage renal failure by using an artificial kidney machine (or ‘dialysis machine’) to replace the excretory function of the failed kidneys.

Blood from the patient is pumped from the body through special tubing to the dialysis machine, where it travels through the dialyser and back to the patient. The procedure is usually carried out three times per week and takes four to five hours.

A range of modes of haemodialysis is used in Victorian public health services.

Home haemodialysis

Home dialysis is the preferred option for many patients.

If home haemodialysis is chosen, the individual is fully trained to manage their own dialysis with the assistance of a partner, spouse, parent or friend. In conventional home haemodialysis, patients dialyse for four to five hours, three times per week during daytime hours.

Nocturnal home haemodialysis

Nocturnal home haemodialysis occurs overnight while the patient sleeps.

Patients are trained to self-care at home and do not need a carer or family member to assist. Patients will dialyse for up to eight to ten hours either every second night or six times per week while they sleep.

Hospital (inpatient) haemodialysis

This dialysis procedure is carried out at the hub unit only. Dialysis in a hub unit is best reserved for people with serious medical problems who need immediate access to medical care during dialysis or who, for clinical reasons, are not suitable to receive their dialysis in a satellite centre.

Patients are also admitted to the hub for training or while waiting for placement in a satellite. Hospital haemodialysis may also be called inpatient haemodialysis. Patients receiving routine maintenance dialysis (due to inability to access suitable dialysis close to their home) in a hub facility should be defined as satellite patients.

Satellite haemodialysis

This dialysis procedure is carried out in a hospital or self-care facility located away from the hub site.

Satellite units may be wholly operated and staffed by a hub, or staffed and run by another hospital.

Peritoneal dialysis

In peritoneal dialysis, the dialysing fluid is inserted into the peritoneal (abdominal) cavity at regular intervals, and the waste products diffuse into it.

The peritoneum is the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity. Peritoneal dialysis uses this membrane for the chemical exchange between blood capilliaries and the dialysing fluid.

After a period of time, the dialysing fluid is drained from the cavity.

Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis

Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) is usually performed four times a day. Each exchange takes about 30 minutes and can be done almost anywhere, provided a clean area is available.

Between each exchange the patient is free to undertake the regular activities of daily living.

Automated peritoneal dialysis

Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD) requires a machine to regulate the movement of fluid into and out of the peritoneal cavity.

The patient is attached to the machine at night before going to sleep and while they sleep the machine performs six to eight exchanges.

During the day, solution is left in the peritoneal cavity so that dialysis can still occur slowly.

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