Huntsville Hospital Services


Our Dialysis Department is the largest hospital-based dialysis unit in North Alabama, averaging 960 treatments every month.

The 14-bay unit offers dialysis and Therapeutic Plasma Exchange (TPE) treatments for hospital patients with kidney disease and other serious health problems. Treatments are available 24/7. For patients who are too sick to leave their hospital room, we can perform dialysis at the bedside with a portable hemofiltration system.

What is dialysis?

Dialysis is the process of filtering waste, salt and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys are no longer healthy enough to perform those functions. Dialysis helps control blood pressure and keeps the body’s electrolytes – such as potassium, sodium, and bicarbonate – in the proper balance. The two main types of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal.

  • With hemodialysis, blood flows out of the body into a machine that filters out waste products and fluid. The cleansed blood is then returned back into the body.
  • With peritoneal dialysis, the patient’s abdominal cavity serves as the filter. Dialysis fluid flows into the peritoneal (abdominal) cavity, and waste is filtered through the peritoneum, the thin membrane that surrounds the abdominal organs. The dialysis fluid draws wastes and extra fluid from the peritoneum into the dialysis solution.

Each type of dialysis has advantages and disadvantages. Patients work with their nephrologist, or kidney specialist, to choose the type that best suits their lifestyle and needs.

What is TPE?

Therapeutic Plasma Exchange, also known as TPE or plasmapheresis, is a blood-cleansing procedure used to treat a variety of medical conditions. During TPE, blood passes through a device to separate red and white blood cells from the fluid part of the blood, called plasma. The plasma, which may contain substances harmful to the patient, is discarded and replaced with other fluids.

Huntsville Hospital’s Dialysis Department offers TPE to treat these conditions:

  • Relapsing or Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
  • Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
  • AIDP and CIDP
  • ARF due to Myeloma Kidney
  • Hyperviscosity Syndrome
  • Coagulation Factor Inhibitors
  • Acute CNS Inflammatory Demyelinating Disease
  • Paraneoplastic Neurologic Syndromes