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What is haemodialysis?

During haemodialysis, blood is taken out of your body via an arteriovenous fistula or a neck line. It is then passed through an artificial kidney where the toxins and waste is filtered out. This 'clean' blood is then returned to you.


Haemodialysis can be carried out in-centre at the Norfolk and Norwich Kidney Centre OR in your own home. However, we like you to be stable on haemodialysis before allowing you to do it at home so this will mean you will be coming in-centre for the first few months to begin with.

In-centre Dialysis


  • Three times a week (M/W/F or T/Th/S)

  • 3-4 hour sessions (depending on how well you are dialysing)

  • Morning (07:30), afternoon (11:30) and evening (17:30) slots – allocated by the unit

  • All care is taken care of by experienced nurses

Home Haemodialysis


  • Up to 5 times a week

  • Shorter sessions (3 hours – ideally 12 hours a week minimum)

  • No set time – dialyse when it suits you

  • You will be responsible for carrying out your treatment with the support of a partner/carer

  • Home must meet specific criteria

These are the 2 machines we use at the Norfolk and Norwich Kidney Centre. These machines enable us to offer the most up-to-date dialysis treatment.


What is a fistula?

An arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is the joining of an artery and vein to form a 'super vein'.

It is a surgical procedure (usually a day case) carried out at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.


Having a fistula for haemodialysis is considered the 'gold standard'. Ideally if you choose to have this type of treatment, we would like you to have a working fistula before you needed to start dialysis.


  • Better dialysis outcomes

  • Less risk of infection

  • Access lasts longer

  • Can go swimming/bathing

What is a neck line?

A neck line (also know as a tunnelled central venous catheter) is a plastic tube that is inserted into your neck. The tip sits in the top of your heart and this is how we get blood out of your body for dialysis. 

Neck line insertions normally happen as a day case on Langley Ward at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. 

cvc line.jpg


  • Dialysis can happen almost immediately 

  • No needles required

  • Ideal for those whose blood vessels are not suitable for a fistula


  • Higher risk of infection

  • Requires routine maintenance

  • Cosmetically visible so may affect body image

  • Higher risk of accidental removal/damage

  • No swimming/submerging under water (baths)

I choose haemodialysis as my choice of treatment - what happens next?

You will be referred to our vascular access specialist nurses (details below). They will be in touch with you to discuss arranging an appointment for you to have a scan on your arm to see how good your blood vessels are. After this appointment and all being well, a date for surgery will be booked for you.

It is very important now that you preserve the veins in your arms.

Try to encourage healthcare practitioners to take blood from the back of your hand for venepuncture and intravenous infusions wherever possible.

If there is absolutely no other option, use the veins in the arm of the dominant arm only.


Imogen Barber

Rebecca Barnes

Dialysis Access Specialist Nurses

01603 288666

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