Patient Guide

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis is another type of renal replacement therapy. However, instead of cleansing the blood through an artificial membrane outside of the body as in hemodialysis, the blood is instead cleaned inside the body using a membrane called the peritoneum.

The peritoneum is a thin membrane that covers all organs in your abdomen. A permanent soft catheter is inserted into a cavity between the membrane and your organs. By running dialysis fluid into this space, waste products pass from the body into the fluid. After a few hours, the fluid containing the waste products is drained out and replaced with fresh fluid.

 Peritoneal dialysis access

PD solution goes in and out of the peritoneal cavity through a catheter. The catheter is a soft, flexible tube about the size of a straw. It is placed in the lower abdomen during a minor surgical procedure and is usually ready to use in two weeks after surgery.

There are two types of peritoneal dialysis:

CAPD – continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis happens throughout the day, at home or at work, while the person goes about their daily life. Between 1.5 and 3 liters of fluid is run in four times a day, replacing the fluid from the previous exchange. This takes about 30-40 minutes.

APD – automated peritoneal dialysis, in which the dialysate solution is changed by a machine, at night, while you are asleep. The machine will exchange 8-12 liters over 8-10 hours and then leave 1-2 liters to dwell during the day.

You will be trained by the PD nurses – the techniques need to be done correctly and in a clean manner, but are designed to be done at home perhaps with the help of a partner. Although you are at home, you will be contacted frequently by the nurses and will come to the outpatient clinic every few weeks.