What Is In-Center Hemodialysis (In-Center HD)?
Hemodialysis (HD) is a type of dialysis that filters your blood outside your body using a machine and a dialyzer, which is a manufactured filter that acts like an artificial kidney.
During hemodialysis (HD), the hemodialysis machine removes a small amount of your blood from your body through a needle or catheter. The dialyzer then cleans your blood, removing waste, toxins, and excess fluid. Finally, your clean blood is returned to your body.
Clinic-based hemodialysis (HD) treatments take place at a hospital or dialysis clinic under the supervision of a clinical care team. This is called in-center hemodialysis (In-Center HD). If you are receiving hemodialysis (HD) treatments in-center you will typically schedule them 3 times per week, and each session will last somewhere between 3 and 5 hours.
How Does In-Center Hemodialysis (In-Center HD) Work?
If you are treated with in-center hemodialysis (In-Center HD), you will typically travel to your hospital or dialysis clinic 3 times a week to receive 3-5-hour treatments each time, depending on the dialysis schedule your clinician has prescribed. There, you will be taken care of by a nurse or clinician throughout your treatment.
Before each in-center hemodialysis (In-Center HD) treatment, a member of your care team will give you a short physical examination and weigh you to determine how much water will need to be removed from your body. Your treatment access site will be cleaned, the needles needed for treatment will be inserted, and the tubing that connects your access site to the hemodialysis machine will be set up. Your hemodialysis (HD) treatment will then begin, and you will be looked after by a nurse. When your treatment is done and you’ve been disconnected from the machine, your blood pressure will be measured, and you can leave the center.
It is a good idea to arrive early for your in-center hemodialysis (In-Center HD) appointments to allow ample time for your healthcare team’s preparation. It is best to wear comfortable clothing and bring a book or other form of entertainment to keep yourself occupied while you’re being treated. During and after your hemodialysis (HD) treatments, you may feel tired or experience uncomfortable leg cramps or nausea. Therefore, it is common to want to go home and rest. If you experience unusual symptoms during or after your treatment, you should talk to your clinical team about your symptoms.
In terms of how the therapy feels, you should expect to feel some mild pain during the needle insertion phase, and as mentioned before, you may feel tired or experience uncomfortable leg cramps or nausea after therapy. The therapy itself should not be painful.
Choosing a type of in-center hemodialysis (In-Center HD)
If you and your clinician decide that in-center hemodialysis (In-Center HD) is the best treatment option for you, you may be able to choose between receiving in-center treatments during the day (daytime HD) or, in some cases, receiving them at night (nocturnal HD). Daytime hemodialysis (HD) is the most common choice of therapy and is the most likely to be available to you. Your sessions will be scheduled at a time that fits your hospital or clinic. Days and times for therapy will be allocated depending on available spaces.
It is crucial that you attend all of your in-center treatment sessions, so discussing your lifestyle needs with your healthcare team in order to find a suitable treatment timeslot is the best way to ensure that it’s easy for you to stay on your treatment plan. You should be aware that it is not always possible to have in-center treatments at the exact time you would prefer – so flexibility is key. You should also talk to your clinician regularly about your treatment options, in case the option you first choose doesn’t work for your lifestyle.
- Daytime in-center HD
If you work nights, are retired, or have free time on most weekdays, it might be convenient for you to get treated during the day. You will have to commit to 3-5 hour in-center treatment appointments 3 times per week. A nurse or clinician will administer your treatments for you, so you won’t have to do them yourself.
- Nocturnal in-center HD
For some patients, nocturnal HD may be a therapy option. If it will be difficult for you to fulfil your professional or personal responsibilities while receiving daytime HD, nocturnal HD may be the right therapy for you. Nocturnal HD is hemodialysis performed while you sleep at the hospital or clinic. Because it is a longer, slower form of dialysis, it filters your blood in a way that more closely resembles what a natural kidney would do. Because nocturnal HD is done while you sleep, it may fit more easily with a busy daytime schedule. Keep in mind that nocturnal HD is not available to many patients; your clinical team will tell you if it’s an option for you.
If you opt for nocturnal HD, or it is recommended by your clinician, be sure to choose a hospital or clinic that offers it.
Preparing for in-center hemodialysis (In-Center HD)
Before your in-center hemodialysis (In-Center HD) treatments start, you will also need to have a surgical procedure that creates a dialysis access site under your skin called a fistula. This fistula lets unfiltered blood flow from your blood vessels through the hemodialysis machine and lets clean blood flow back into your blood vessels. Access to this fistula is created by inserting two needles into the blood vessels in the fistula.
There are three different types of hemodialysis (HD) access: fistula, graft and hemodialysis (HD) catheter. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, and you should discuss these with your care team in order to determine which will be the safest and most effective access option for you. Typically, a fistula is considered the standard of care in most dialysis centers.
- A fistula is often the best choice for hemodialysis (HD) because it uses your own blood vessels, allowing for good blood flow during therapy, and has the lowest chance of infection.
- Your surgeon will connect one of your arteries to a vein under the skin of your upper or lower arm.
- This surgery should be done ideally 2-3 months in advance of your dialysis start date.
- During dialysis, unfiltered blood will flow from your blood vessels through one needle, connected to your fistula, and your clean blood will flow back into your body through a second needle, also connected to your fistula.
- To create a graft, your surgeon will use a piece of medical tubing to connect one of your arteries to one of your veins. This graft will be placed under the skin either on your arm or your leg.
- During dialysis, unfiltered blood will flow from your blood vessels through one needle, connected to your graft, and your clean blood will flow back into your body through a second needle, also connected to your graft.
- Catheters are usually temporary and are only used while you’re waiting to receive a fistula or a graft.
- A catheter will be placed inside a vein, either in your neck or your chest. The other end of the tube will exit your skin and be attached to the hemodialysis machine tubing.
- Catheters are not recommended for long-term use because they can put you at higher risk of blood clotting and infection and provide a slower blood-flow rate.
Depending on the strength of your veins and your overall health, your clinician will be able to decide what type of access option is best suited to you. If your clinician decides that you need a fistula or graft, they will need to schedule the surgery in advance of your dialysis start date.
No matter which kind of access type you choose, you’ll have to protect your access site from excess pressure, germs and infection. Remember to clean your hands before touching your access site and consistently check it for signs of swelling and irritation. If you suspect these issues, contact your nurse immediately. This is true for all dialysis treatment options.
Benefits of In-Center Hemodialysis (In-Center HD)
In-center hemodialysis (In-Center HD) is performed under the supervision of a supportive clinical team, meaning that you can let others take care of you during treatment. You can use your treatment time to sleep, read, work on your laptop, listen to music or do something else you enjoy. You will also have the opportunity to talk to other dialysis patients, so you can exchange information and stories about dialysis journeys similar to and different from your own.
There may be other benefits to receiving in-center hemodialysis (In-Center HD). For example, it might be favorable for you to receive treatment outside your home, both because it gives you the opportunity to get out of the house, it may be less invasive for your family and because you may have more ability to keep your treatment life separate from your home life.
While in-center hemodialysis (In-Center HD) has certain benefits, it also has special considerations. You should consider the following before speaking with your clinician about whether in-center hemodialysis (In-Center HD) is right for you:
- Depending on how far you live from your dialysis clinic, you may need to build transportation time into your treatment schedule 3-4 times per week.
- If you require hospital-provided transport to get to your appointments, they may pick you and other patients up early, and you may have to wait for transport after dialysis in order to return home.
- Needles must be inserted during each treatment, which may be uncomfortable for you if you are afraid of needles.
- During and after your hemodialysis (HD) treatments, you may feel tired or nauseated.
- It may be difficult to plan your daily schedule around your in-center treatment sessions.
Where to go next?
Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) at Home
There are other types of dialysis – some of which can even be done at home. Learn more about peritoneal dialysis (PD).
Home Hemodialysis (Home HD)
You may also be able to do hemodialysis in the comfort of your own home. Learn more about home hemodialysis (HHD).
Other Treatment Options
If you and your clinician decide dialysis isn’t right for you, there are other treatment options you may consider. Learn more about other options for treating chronic kidney disease (CKD).