Care After

Dialysis is a treatment that removes the toxic wastes from the body when the kidneys fail to do this on their own. There are 2 types of dialysis:

  • Hemodialysis. Blood is pumped from the body through a filter (dialyzer). The blood is cleaned of waste products and returned to the body. Hemodialysis is performed in a dialysis center for 3 to 4 hours, 3 times a week. Dialysis is performed through an arteriovenous (AV) access, which provides access to the blood vessel. The main advantage of hemodialysis is that no training is required of the patient. Disadvantages include potential AV access failure and lack of freedom, as you must stay relatively near a dialysis center.

  • Peritoneal dialysis. The body's own lining (membrane) is used as a filter. A fluid drains in and out of the abdomen to get rid of the body's toxic wastes. Advantages are that it can be taught to the patient and can be done at home with careful technique. It allows more freedom and less discomfort. Disadvantages include potential inflammation inside the abdomen (peritonitis) and membrane failure.


  • If you have an AV access:

  • Check for a "thrill" at your access site every day. This is a vibrating or buzzing feeling when you place your fingers over the access site. This means the access is working. If you do not feel a "thrill," the access needs to be repaired.

  • Never wear tight clothing or jewelry around the access.

  • Avoid sleeping on the access. This can decrease circulation and can cause the access to clot.

  • Keep the bandage (dressing) on for a couple hours after your treatment or as told by your caregiver. Avoid getting your dressing wet. If the dressing comes off, cover the access site with a 4x4 gauze dressing and tape securely.

  • Keep your access site clean to prevent infection.

  • Keep some 4x4 gauze dressings at home in case your access starts to bleed. You may have received a medicine that can cause bleeding called heparin with your treatment.

  • Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) damages your heart and vessels. It is important to exercise as much as possible.

  • Keep your cholesterol under control. Exercise regularly or as directed.


  • You do not feel a "thrill" in your AV access.

  • You have a fever, chills, sweats, or weakness.

  • You have a small amount of bleeding at your access site.

  • Your blood pressure is too high.


  • You have sudden chest pain or trouble breathing.

  • You have bleeding that cannot be stopped or controlled with direct pressure.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.