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Home Dialysis


“My Peritoneal Dialysis machine gives me the freedom to do what I want during the day.”

Margaret from Cape Breton, has been at home on peritoneal dialysis for over three years.

“Home hemodialysis has allowed me to self manage my time and I could fit my dialysis around my lifestyle. I liked that I was in control of my dialysis.”

Daniel from South West Nova Scotia was on Home Hemodialysis for over two years.


After being diagnosed with kidney disease you can feel overwhelmed and concerned about lifestyle changes, especially having to dedicate so much time to dialysis. It doesn't have to be like that for every person. If you choose home dialysis you may feel better, have less fatigue after dialysis, enjoy more diet flexibility and have less fluid restrictions. And if the weather is bad, you don’t have to drive to a dialysis unit, you can just stay home.
Home dialysis lets you dialyze more frequently. You can even dialyze overnight. This gives you more options on how you can spend your time. You can do what you want to do, not what you have to do.
It’s a big decision, so here are some questions you could ask your health team to help you make that decision:
  1. What treatments are done at home?
  2. Am I suitable for peritoneal dialysis or home hemodialysis?
  3. Can you help me assess what treatment option best suits my lifestyle?
  4. Will I be able to speak with another patient who has been on the treatment I’m interested in?
  5. At  this  point  in  my  life with kidney  disease,  is  one  choice  better  than  another?
  6. Will one treatment better protect my remaining kidney function?

The  choice  between  types  of  dialysis  depends  on  factors  such  as  your  age,  health  and  lifestyle.   The  benefits  and  drawbacks  of  each  type  need  to  be  discussed  with  your  healthcare  team  and  family.

Home Hemodialysis (HHD), just like In-center Hemodialysis (ICHD) is effective in removing waste and excess fluid from your body. Home hemodialysis can be done in the comfort of your home and gives you the ability to dialyze more frequently, on your schedule. There are three kinds of home hemodialysis: short daily home hemodialysis, nighttime (nocturnal) home hemodialysis and conventional home hemodialysis (three times a week). Your kidneys don’t just work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so performing your treatments more frequently at home will make you feel better.  As a result, you may have added energy and feel less tired between treatments.

Unlike In-center Hemodialysis, HHD lets you control when and where you dialyze. Instead of spending your time in a hemodialysis unit during treatments, you’ll be in the comfort of your own home. That means you don’t have to schedule your day around traveling to your dialysis treatment. Home hemodialysis is a great way for you to take control of your life and spend your time the way you want to, doing the things you like to do.

Peritoneal Dialysis, or PD, is a different kind of dialysis. It's performed in the comfort and convenience of your own home, and does not require needles. You can take PD supplies to work, to the cottage or on vacation. Plus, you will have more free time to do the things you want to do, like working, volunteering, gardening, golfing, traveling or taking care of grandchildren. PD patients report a high level of satisfaction with their dialysis choice. A large number of patients choose to do their peritoneal dialysis at night, so they have the freedom to use their days doing the things they would normally be doing. 

With PD, a solution is put inside your abdomen through a catheter. Waste and excess fluid are filtered into the solution, which is then drained from your body through the catheter.  There are two ways PD can be done. The first type of PD is called Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD), which requires fluid exchanges three or four times per day. The second is Continuous Cycler  Peritoneal Dialysis (CCPD), which uses a machine (cycler) to perform the exchanges while you sleep. It’s not a treatment that’s right for everyone, but for some people, it gives independence that they can’t get with other treatments.

With PD, you're not restricted to a chair in a dialysis unit for hours at a time. And since you're dialyzing throughout the day for shorter periods, or even overnight, waste is constantly being removed, so you are likely to feel better. 

For further information on each treatment option see Treatment Options Comparison Chart.
The following Nova Scotia specific resources on Home Dialysis are available to help you make your decision:
Video: Bridge the Distance: First Nations and Renal Dialysis (developed with and for First Nations by the Cape Breton Renal Program)
Video: The Choice is Yours (developed by the Capital Health Renal Program, Halifax)
Please note: The information contained on this page is provided for educational purposes only. It is not designed nor intended to constitute medical advice.  Due to complexity of medical care, you should consult your healthcare team to determine the appropriateness of the information for making a treatment decision. 

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