What is dialysis?

The kidneys filter your blood to remove waste products produced by body metabolism, and excess fluid. These become urine and accumulate in your bladder to be passed out of your body when you urinate.

Dialysis is a procedure that replaces some of the functions of the kidneys when the kidneys no longer function properly.

Types of dialysis

There are 2 types of dialysis:


In haemodialysis (also known as 'blood washing'), blood is taken out from the body through a vascular access or 'blood line' and shunted through the dialysis machine.

This process "cleanses" the blood and removes waste products and excess water. The "cleansed" blood is returned back to the body via another blood line. These blood lines can be in the form of a dialysis catheter, an arteriovenous fistula or an arteriovenous graft.

Peritoneal dialysis

In peritoneal dialysis (also known as 'water dialysis'), a tube is surgically inserted into your abdomen.

The dialysis solution will be infused and drained through the tube while the lining of your abdomen (peritoneum) acts as a filter to remove waste from your blood.

Why do you need dialysis?

Your doctor will recommend dialysis if you develop end-stage kidney failure. Dialysis will help to:

  • Remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood to prevent toxin build-up in your body.
  • Maintain the proper balance of fluid and various electrolytes (e.g. potassium and sodium) in your body.

Alternatively, your doctor may recommend a kidney transplant.

Who should not undergo dialysis?

Peritoneal dialysis may not be suitable if you have:

  • Extensive surgical scars in your abdomen
  • A hernia, which is a large area of weakened abdominal muscle
  • Limited dexterity or ability to care for yourself
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Your doctor may recommend haemodialysis or a kidney transplant instead.

What are the risks and complications of dialysis?

Both haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis come with risks and complications.


In haemodialysis, risks and complications include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Anaemia, or low red cell count
  • Muscle cramps during haemodialysis
  • Dialysis-related amyloidosis, which is when beta-2 microglobulin protein builds up in the blood

Peritoneal dialysis

In peritoneal dialysis, risks and complications include:

  • Weakening of the abdominal muscle resulting in the development of new hernia
  • Infection in or around the catheter site
  • High blood sugar, due to sugar (dextrose) in the dialysis solution

Why choose Parkway East Hospital?

As the preferred private hospital in the eastern region of Singapore, Parkway East Hospital provides a range of medical therapies to treat kidney conditions. Our care team will guide you through the dialysis journey in a warm and caring environment.

Our nephrologists

Our kidney specialists provide a range of treatments to manage kidney diseases and related conditions. Depending on your condition, we will recommend medications, dialysis, therapies or surgical procedures targeted to improve your health.

This page has been reviewed by our medical content reviewers.

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