What is Peritoneal Dialysis?


Just like hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis (PD) removes wastes, chemicals, and extra water from your body. With peritoneal dialysis (PD), the blood is cleansed inside your body using the peritoneal membrane. The peritoneal membrane is the lining of your abdomen and abdominal organs. The peritoneal membrane acts a filter to clean your blood. Peritoneal dialysis is performed primarily as a home treatment but may fit into your work or travel schedule very easily.

How Peritoneal Dialysis Works

  • For peritoneal dialysis, a tube called a catheter is surgically placed through the wall of your abdomen.
  • The catheter is usually placed about an inch below and to the side of the navel.
  • The catheter is usually used within 2 weeks after placement.
  • A mixture of minerals and sugar are dissolved in water to create a dialysis solution.
  • The solution is travels into the abdomen through the catheter.
  • Waste, chemicals, and extra water pass through the peritoneal membrane into the dialysis solution.
  • After several hours, the used solution is drained from the abdomen taking the waste, chemicals, and extra water from the blood with it.
  • New dialysis solution is replaced into the abdomen and the cleansing cycle starts over again.
  • The process of draining and refilling is called an exchange.

Types of Peritoneal Dialysis

Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis or CAPD

The first type of peritoneal dialysis is called Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis or CAPD. With CAPD, the patient manually performs their exchange. An exchange normally takes approximately 30 minutes and is normally performed 4 times throughout the day. Gravity is used to drain the old dialysis solution and to fill the new dialysis solution. CAPD can be performed anywhere a patient has a clean, closed environment during the exchange procedure.

Automated Peritoneal Dialysis or APD

The second type of dialysis is Automated Peritoneal Dialysis or APD. Automated is also commonly referred to as cycler or CCPD therapy. APD is an automated method of peritoneal dialysis, performed using a machine to perform the drain and fill process for you. This process is normally performed at primarily while you sleep. APD can be performed again anywhere you have a clean, closed environment that you have access to electric.

With every patient is different, your doctor and nurse will discuss in detail both types of peritoneal dialysis and help you determine which one meets your lifestyle.

Advantages of Peritoneal Dialysis

  • A flexible lifestyle and independence
  • Fewer side negative side effects (nausea, vomiting, cramping, weight gain)
  • Fewer dietary restrictions
  • Fewer fluid restrictions
  • Doesn’t use needles
  • Clinic visits usually once a month instead of three times a week for hemodialysis
  • Provides a continuous therapy, which is more like your natural kidneys
  • Easy to travel and perform therapy
  • Can perform therapy while you sleep

Disadvantages of Peritoneal Dialysis

  • Both CAPD and APD are performed 7 days a week
  • Requires a permanent catheter to be placed for the fill and drain of solution
  • Possibility of an infection
  • Need storage space for dialysis supplies to be delivered to you home

Peritoneal Dialysis Training

  • Patients who choose a peritoneal dialysis therapy are thoroughly trained to perform the exchange procedure at home. Training normally takes 5-8 days in a dialysis clinic where a nurse trains you on the dialysis procedure, washing of your hands, preventing infection, and how to spot an infection if it should occur.
  •  A patient and/or care partner will feel very comfortable performing the dialysis procedure at home prior to the end of training.
  • A dialysis nurse generally is available by phone 24 hours a day to answer questions or help with minor problems.