Dialysis at Children’s

In short, dialysis is a method of cleaning waste and extra water from the body. It is often required in severe kidney disease or kidney failure. Dialysis helps control the body’s fluid balance and blood pressure and keeps important chemicals in the body in balance.

At Children’s, we offer dialysis for children with both acute and chronic kidney failure. It is often a life-saving procedure.

Our multi-disciplinary team includes specially trained nurses and physicians as well as a dedicated social worker, dietician and child life specialist. All are focused on keeping your child as healthy as possible and helping him or her grow and develop normally while maintaining the most normal lifestyle possible. For most patients, we view dialysis as a bridge to future kidney transplantation.

Types of dialysis offered at Children’s include:

Peritoneal dialysis

About peritoneal dialysis

For children with chronic kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease, peritoneal dialysis (PD) is a daily, automated home treatment that may offer your child and family more flexibility than in-hospital treatment. If it’s a good fit for your child, our nurses train you how to perform PD at home and provide all the ongoing support your family needs.

How peritoneal dialysis works

To perform peritoneal dialysis, a special catheter (soft tubing) needs to be surgically placed in the abdomen. Using this peritoneal dialysis catheter, your child’s abdominal cavity can be gently filled with a cleansing liquid called dialysate fluid that draws out chemical waste and extra fluid from the body. When the dialysate fluid is drained, the body’s wastes and fluid drain too. This can be done safely and without discomfort using a small, automated machine at home, while your child sleeps at night.

Hemodialysis

About hemodialysis

Children with chronic kidney failure may receive an in-hospital form of dialysis called hemodialysis at our hospital. It’s provided by nurses specially trained in pediatric dialysis and is usually performed on an outpatient basis, three times a week.

How hemodialysis works

Hemodialysis uses a machine with a special filter, called a dialyzer, which slowly filters out waste and extra fluid from your child’s blood. Blood is removed from the body and circulated through the dialyzer filter and then returned immediately back to your child’s bloodstream. The blood is removed through a special tube called a hemodialysis catheter, or through a special vein in the arm called a fistula. A fistula is created with a small surgical procedure and can be used approximately 2-3 months later. Hemodialysis treatments usually take about three to four hours and need to be performed three times per week. Children will often rest quietly, do their homework, watch TV, or read while being dialyzed.

Continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT)

About CRRT

Children’s is dedicated to providing treatment for children with acute kidney failure. Acute kidney failure is a serious condition that can be caused by a number of different illnesses such as infection, heart failure, or specific diseases that attack the kidney. When patients are critically ill with kidney failure, a procedure can be performed called Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy in the intensive care unit. This procedure is designed to provide dialysis to the sickest patients and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is performed until the kidneys begin working again. Our staff is specially trained to provide this life-saving service.

How CRRT works

CRRT is a slow, continuous form of dialysis that filters waste and extra fluids from your child’s blood 24 hours a day. It is performed at the bedside using a special machine. It requires a special catheter placed in a large vein. Blood is removed, and slowly circulated through the machine’s filter, then immediately returned to your child’s body. This is most often performed continuously 24 hours a day for as long as needed. The kidney specialists, critical care doctors and nurses work together to use the procedure to help your child through their illness and into recovery.