Treatment Options for Kidney Failure

If the kidneys fail, blood is no longer filtered. Waste and extra fluids build up in the body, and chemicals become out of balance. This can make you ill and even cause death. Though kidney failure has no cure, certain treatments can help keep the body working the best it can.


Dialysis is a treatment that filters the blood. There are 2 types of dialysis:

  • Hemodialysis filters blood with a filter attached to a machine. Blood travels from your body to the machine, is cleaned, and then returns to your body.

  • Peritoneal dialysis uses the natural lining in your abdomen. A fluid placed inside your abdomen works with the lining to clean your blood.

Closeup of arm showing fistula between artery and vein and catheters moving blood to and from dialyzer for hemodialysis.
Side view of abdomen showing catheter inserted through body wall into abdominal cavity.
Peritoneal dialysis

Kidney transplant

A kidney transplant is a type of surgery. This is the way doctors prefer to treat kidney failure. Compared with dialysis, a transplant can offer you a better quality of life, as well as a longer life. A kidney is removed from another living person or from an organ donor who has just died. The donated kidney is then placed in the body of the person with kidney failure. The new kidney is placed close to your bladder. Your old kidneys are not removed. Once in place, the new kidney takes over the work that the old kidneys can no longer do. If the transplant succeeds, dialysis isn't needed.

Front view of male body showing urinary tract and transplanted kidney.
The new kidney is placed close to your bladder. Your old kidneys are not removed.


In addition to one of the treatments above, you may also need medicines to help with your kidneys' other tasks. Your healthcare team can tell you more about these medicines.

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