What Is Peritoneal Dialysis 


Peritoneal dialysis is a type of dialysis treatment that allows your blood to be cleaned inside your body. A plastic tube called a catheter is surgically inserted into your abdomen. This will be the access point to your peritoneal cavity. During your dialysis treatment, your peritoneal cavity is slowly filled with a dialysate solution...through the catheter tube.

This form of dialysis allows your blood to remain in your arteries and veins, that line your peritoneal cavity. The excess fluids and waste products are drawn out of your bloodstream and into the dialysis solution. This process of draining and filtering, is called an exchange and it usually takes about 30 - 40 minutes.

A typical PD treatment schedule, requires at least 4 exchanges per day. Sometimes the exchange is more frequent over night, using an automated system. The time period in which the dialysate solution remains in the peritoneal cavity is called the dwell time. The dwell time could be anywhere from 4 to 6 hours at a given period.

Types of Peritoneal Dialysis

There are several types of peritoneal dialysis; however, only two of them are used more than the others. The two most commonly used form of peritoneal dialysis include:

  • Continuous Ambulatory PD (CAPD). This is a continuous process that is done without the use of any machines. The treatment is done as you go about doing your regularly scheduled activities. This dialysis treatment is done by placing about two quarts of dialysate in your peritoneal cavity (abdomen area) and draining it later. Your treatment begins by you hooking up a bag that contains the dialysate solution to the tube in your abdomen. Raising the bag to your shoulder level, causes the solution to be gravity fed into your peritoneal cavity. Once the bag is empty, you can remove and dump it.
  • Continuous Cycling PD (CCPD). This type of dialysis treatment differs from the CAPD type. It uses a machine called a cycler that delivers and drains the dialysate solution for you. The treatment is usually done during the night time as you sleep.

The basic treatment, as you can see is the same for both types of peritoneal dialysis. However the number of treatments and the way the dialysis is carried out, make each one different.

Side Effects of Peritoneal Dialysis

Because exchanges (the process of filling, dwelling time, and draining the dialysis solution) have to be done carefully, there is always a great risk of infections form bacteria. Because CAPD is done up to 4 to 5 times a day...seven days a week. Frequent handling of your catheter tube means that there is a greater risk for infections.

Individuals doing the Continuous Cycler-assisted peritoneal dialysis and Nocturnal Intermittent PD handle their catheter way less. Still there is a chance of infection. The infection that is most common with this type of dialysis treatment is called peritonitis. This is an infection of the peritonesum (area where the catheter is placed in your abdomen).

Symptoms of Peritonitis Infection

The symptoms of a peritonitis infection include:

  • Fever.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Cloudy dialysate (dialysis solution).

Immediate treatment of a peritonitis infection is the key to preventing it from getting worst. This is usually treated with prescribed antibiotics. Infections of the skin around the catheter insertion site are also common.

If you experience redness or inflammation in this area...call your physician right away.

Preventing Infection During Your Peritoneal Dialysis

To prevent any infection, patients are advised to...

  • Perform their exchanges carefully.
  • Perform their exchanges in a clean area.
  • Keep the catheter area clean and only touch it with cleaned washed hands.
  • Apply an antibiotic preparation at their catheter exit site to prevent any infections.
  • Always use sterile gloves (can minimize the transfer of bacteria).

There are times when an individual may have problems attaching or detaching their dialysate solution bag. This can induce stress on the catheter tube which can result in hair line cracks. These hair line cracks can allow germs to enter.

Other Potential Side Effects of Peritoneal Dialysis

A hernia believe or not, is another potential side effect of peritoneal dialysis. The insertion of your catheter can make the muscles of your abdominal wall weak. These muscles are the ones that protect the internal organs and keep them in place.

Due to the weakness of these muscles, the pressure form your dialysate solution pushes against these muscles.

The pressure from the solution could cause a tear which can cause the organs of your abdominal cavity to emerge through the tear. This problem usually occurs during your exchange. Unfortunately when you develop a hernia, the only way to correct this condition is through surgery.

Weight gain and bloating are also potential side effects of peritoneal dialysis. The weight gain that some individuals may experience during their peritoneal dialysis treatment, is due to fluid (build up) bloating.

This fluid bloating usually comes from their dialysis solution that is dwelling in their peritoneum. Your solution not only filters out toxins form your bloodstream, it also removes the excess fluids as well. Whenever the dialysate solution is drained, an individual will normally remove more fluid than they originally placed in their peritoneum.

Now weight gain that is not associated with fluid bloating, can be caused by the glucose found in your dialysate solution. This glucose is usually absorbed by your body if the dialysate is allowed to dwell in peritoneum for too long.

To combat this problem, it is recommended that you talk with a Renal Dietitian or Nurse. These professionals can give you some tips on how to balance your nutritional needs. This can help you to achieve some comfort and avoid any weight gain during your peritoneal dialysis.

Peritoneal dialysis is another treatment for a diabetes kidney.

Diabetes Health home page

New! Comments

Did you find this webpage informative? If so, leave me a comment in the box below.