Understanding Dialysis

People who have kidney disease often choose dialysis treatment. At CHI Franciscan Health, we offer comprehensive outpatient, inpatient and home services for kidney dialysis.

How does dialysis work?

Healthy kidneys filter water and waste products from the body. If you develop kidney failure, you’ll need dialysis for the filtering process:

  • In hemodialysis, the dialysis machine does the filtering
  • In peritoneal dialysis, the body’s own peritoneal membrane in the abdomen filters the blood

With either treatment, you’ll need a dialysis access to get the blood to the dialysis solution:

  • Hemodialysis accesses can be a catheter, graft or fistula
  • Peritoneal access through a peritoneal catheter

Hemodialysis catheter

A Permacath is a hollow tube that is placed in a large vein in the neck or upper chest. It’s most commonly used as a temporary access when you need dialysis immediately or you’re waiting for a fistula or graft to mature.

Graft for hemodialysis

A graft is a soft tube surgically connected to an artery at one end and a vein at the other. The tube acts like a natural vein, allowing blood to flow through it. Physicians can place a graft in your arm or thigh.

Fistula for kidney dialysis

Surgeons create a fistula by surgically joining a vein and an artery. Arteries carry blood at high speed and pressure and have strong walls to handle the blood flow. When an artery is joined to a vein, the fast blood flow from the artery causes the vein to enlarge and strengthen its walls. The vein becomes strong like an artery and can be used for hemodialysis.

Peritoneal dialysis catheter

A peritoneal catheter is a plastic tube surgically inserted into the peritoneal cavity that’s about eight inches long and the width of a pencil. The wound takes several weeks to heal, and the tube is left in permanently. Then the peritoneal cavity can be filled with dialysate to start dialysis.

Outpatient kidney dialysis locations

We offer dialysis services at several locations throughout the Tacoma area. Make an appointment at one of our dialysis center locations near you.