Children's Hospital Colorado

Dialysis Treatment for Children

At Children’s Hospital Colorado, we treat the big things, the small things and everything in between.

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What is dialysis?

Dialysis is a treatment option for children who are experiencing kidney failure. When a child’s kidneys aren’t functioning well enough to filter blood and remove waste and excess water from the body, dialysis helps perform the process for the kidneys.

There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Your child’s care team will work with your family to decide which option is best for your child.

  • During hemodialysis, your child’s nurse inserts a catheter (small tube) into a blood vessel. The dialysis machine filters the blood to remove waste products and excess water and returns the clean blood to the body.
  • During peritoneal dialysis, your child’s nurse inserts a catheter into the abdominal cavity. Special fluid flushes in and out of the body to remove waste products and excess water.

Helping prepare your child for dialysis

We believe in empowering families with knowledge and support. Through simple explanations and open communication, we help your child understand and cope with the dialysis process. Our experienced team includes child life specialists who provide emotional support and use techniques such as play therapy, which can help lessen anxiety and stress related to the procedure.

What to expect during hemodialysis treatment

For hemodialysis, your child will come to our Kidney Center for treatments. These treatments usually happen three to four days a week based on your child’s condition and treatment plan. A dialysis nurse will perform the dialysis treatment, during which time your child can participate in activities such as watching TV, doing homework, playing video games, etc. For younger patients, the hardest part of dialysis is often having to sit still for two to three hours each treatment. Our child life specialists and other caregivers can help them during this time. Most patients handle treatments well. During treatment, they may have occasional symptoms such as cramping or nausea that can be treated with medications and managed by those working in the Kidney Center.

What to expect during peritoneal dialysis treatment

For peritoneal dialysis, your child can usually undergo treatments at home overnight. Parents or caregivers can perform the treatment and your child can then participate in usual activities during the day.

What to expect after dialysis treatment

Following dialysis, it's normal for children to experience fatigue, mild nausea or headaches, which generally improve over time. Our team remains attentive to your child's comfort and recovery, offering guidance and adjustments as needed.

With hemodialysis, many children feel more tired after their dialysis treatments and may want to rest or relax the rest of the day. If they had any other symptoms such as cramping or nausea during their treatment, they’ll receive appropriate medications. Most of the time, patients recover from symptoms and start to feel better within an hour or so after their treatment.

With peritoneal dialysis, most children do not have any significant symptoms after the treatment. Some may have lower blood pressure and feel a little lightheaded, but this usually improves with time and by drinking fluids.

Most children can resume their regular diet and activities shortly after treatment, with our team providing tailored advice on any necessary adjustments.

Why choose Children’s Hospital Colorado for pediatric dialysis

At Children's Colorado, we're more than a treatment facility; we're a partner in your child's health and well-being. Our comprehensive, compassionate approach to dialysis reflects our dedication to not just meeting but exceeding the unique needs of children and their families. At our treatment centers, you’ll find:

  • Expertise: Recognized nationally and internationally, our pediatric nephrology experts help your child benefit from the latest research and the most advanced care.
  • Specialized teams: Our multidisciplinary team, trained specifically in pediatric care, offers a holistic approach to treatment, supporting your child's medical, emotional and social needs.
  • Innovative technology: With state-of-the-art, child-centric technology, we ensure dialysis is both effective and as gentle as possible.
  • Convenience and comfort: From flexible scheduling to at-home dialysis support and educational resources, we prioritize your family's needs and comfort throughout the treatment process.

Comprehensive dialysis programs for even the smallest of patients

At Children's Colorado, we recognize that each child's needs and circumstances are different, especially when it comes to dialysis. Our specialized programs ensure that every child receives the best possible care tailored to their specific situation.

Hospital-based (hemodialysis) dialysis

For families facing challenging home situations or when a child's medical condition requires the advanced support of a hospital setting, we offer hospital-based hemodialysis as an outpatient service. This program ensures that children receive dialysis treatment with the full support of our hospital resources. This includes access to our multidisciplinary team and the latest technology to deliver effective treatment that is comfortable for our patients.

Home-based (peritoneal) dialysis

Understanding the importance of maintaining a healthy family life, we offer peritoneal dialysis in a home setting. This method helps families integrate treatment into their daily routines. Our Kidney Center's clinicians provide comprehensive training for children and their parents or caregivers, empowering them to confidently manage dialysis treatments at home.

Inpatient dialysis

We provide specialized inpatient dialysis with unparalleled care for our most critically ill patients, including infants and newborns. Our team can provide continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) in the critical care setting. We use industry-leading devices to care for patients of all sizes, customizing care for the patient’s needs. For infants and newborns, the CarpediemTM device is specially designed to provide dialysis for children weighing between 5.5 and 22 pounds. Our ability to use the Carpediem device enhances the safety and effectiveness of neonatal dialysis treatment with a device designed to meet their delicate needs.

We are proud to be the only center in the region equipped with this advanced technology made for our smaller patients. This distinction underscores why patients seek us out for their acute kidney care needs. By offering both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis across all inpatient areas and peritoneal dialysis for home-based care, we are helping to provide the most effective and convenient pediatric kidney care.