Dialysis Services

Dialysis is a lifesaving treatment option for people whose kidneys are failing due to severe injuries or chronic conditions.

Our renowned dialysis program at UC San Diego Health's Kidney Care Program offers treatment options such as hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Our main dialysis center is directly connected to the hospital and emergency room, and there's always a physician on-site.

Our experienced dialysis team is led by nephrologists (kidney care specialists) who provide leading-edge treatments. As part of the only academic medical center in the county, our physician-scientists are actively involved in clinical research investigating new therapies for kidney diseases. Our goal is to maintain and improve your overall health and quality of life.

What Is Dialysis?

The main role of the kidneys is to filter extra water, electrolytes and waste products from your body. When the kidneys shut down, dialysis or transplantation is required for survival. Some patients undergo dialysis while awaiting a transplant.

The kidneys could fail due to severe injuries or conditions like chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

Dialysis is the artificial purification of blood with a dialysis machine when your kidneys fail. The machine does the work of the kidneys to cleanse your blood. It pumps out blood, runs it through a special filter to remove toxins and excess fluids, and then returns the blood back to the body. This process can take several hours.

Types of Dialysis We Offer

The type of dialysis you receive depends on your individual situation and lifestyle preference. Some patients may switch from one type of dialysis to another. However, it's important to talk to your physician to find the treatment that works best for you. There are two main types of dialysis:

  • Hemodialysis (HD) cleans your blood using a dialysis machine. In advance of the process, you'll undergo a minor surgical procedure in the arm to create a vascular access to the bloodstream for needles that connect to the dialysis machine. Hemodialysis can be performed in our dialysis center or at home. Learn how hemodialysis works.
  • Peritoneal dialysis (PD) uses a natural filter (inner lining of your belly or peritoneal membrane) to clean your blood. To prepare for dialysis, a surgeon inserts a soft plastic tube (catheter) in the abdomen during a small procedure. During peritoneal dialysis, a machine delivers a cleansing solution through the catheter into your belly. The fluid works with the belly lining to absorb the wastes and extra fluid from your blood before being drained out and discarded. This exchange process is repeated several times during a session. PD is done at home, usually while you sleep. Learn how peritoneal dialysis works.

We recommend that you prepare for dialysis in advance so it does not become a medical emergency when your kidneys begin to shut down. Your physician will work with you to determine when you are ready and/or need to start dialysis.

Experienced, Trained Staff

When you receive your dialysis care at UC San Diego Health, you'll typically see your doctor once a week up to four times a month. Rest assured you'll get the best possible care from our experienced dialysis team, which includes nephrologists, dialysis nurses, dialysis techs, dietitians and social workers.

Support Services

The transition to dialysis might put emotional stress on you and your family. You may need to make some adjustments in your daily routine, diet and lifestyle. Our expert dietitians and highly dedicated social workers can help you manage the physical, social and psychological aspects of kidney failure and dialysis.

In-Center Hemodialysis Locations

This process takes about 4 hours and is usually done three times per week. You can wear regular clothes and sit in a comfortable chair during treatment.

Main Location

In-center dialysis is done in our state-of-the-art dialysis center attached to our Hillcrest hospital.

Hours: Monday to Saturday, 4:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Community-Based Clinics

Our physicians operate a community-based dialysis program that offers services in several convenient locations across San Diego County. You can get a referral to one of our community clinics.

Home Dialysis Locations

This service is provided by Home Dialysis Therapies of San Diego. Options include:

  • Short hemodialysis takes 2-3 hours and is done 5-6 days per week by the patient and a care partner.
  • Nocturnal hemodialysis takes 6-8 hours at night and is done at least 3 times per week by the patient and a care partner.
  • Peritoneal dialysis takes 8-12 hours during the day or night and is done 7 days per week by the patient only.