What is Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)?

Your belly has a membrane inside called the “peritoneum” which can be used to clean your blood of toxins, balance electrolytes, buffer acid and remove fluid if your kidneys are unable to do so.  Developed many years ago, this process is called peritoneal dialysis (PD) and has been refined over the years. PD has the advantage of using your own body as a dialysis machine in the comfort of your home.

Before PD can start, a peritoneal catheter will be placed by the surgeon. In most cases, that catheter can be used soon after insertion. The patient and care partner will undergo extensive training for care and hygiene of the catheter.

During PD, the abdominal area is filled with a specific solution as prescribed by the nephrologist. This solution is called the dialysate, which is designed to use your peritoneum for dialysis. Extra fluids and waste products move from your blood into this fluid, and clean blood stays in circulation. The solution is then gently drained out, and the process is repeated either manually by the patient or automatically by a cycler.

Two types of PD treatments are done at home instead of in a dialysis clinic:

  • Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD):  CAPD is continuous and is done three to five times daily.  Two quarts of fluid are placed in your abdomen and is later drained through a plastic bag of cleansing fluid.  Each treatment takes about 40 minutes, and no machine is required.
  • Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD): Through APD, a machine delivers and drains the fluid for you while you sleep.

Your SKI physician will discuss if PD and which type is best for you.

PD is as good as hemodialysis in cleaning your blood. However, PD has the added advantage of being gentle on your body and providing flexibility of schedule that comes with home dialysis.