Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is currently the most common home dialysis treatment option. Among nephrologists (kidney doctors) worldwide, PD is considered one of the top initial and long-term therapies. PD is generally performed every day either manually during the day or at night using a cycler machine. Many people choose PD because it fits well into their lifestyles and provides more control over their treatment program.
How PD works
When your kidneys stop working, toxins and fluid build up in the body and cannot be released. PD uses the lining of your abdomen (belly) to gently remove this waste buildup from the blood through a solution known as dialysate. Instead of needles, dialysate gets passed in and out through a surgically placed tube, called a catheter, in your abdomen. The soft, flexible catheter is about the width of a pencil and can easily be hidden under your clothes as you go about your day. Over several hours, the fluid pulls waste from your blood and exits the body by way of the catheter. Because PD treatments can be performed several times a day, it is the dialysis option most similar to your natural kidney function.
Your catheter remains permanently in the abdomen and is taped down on the outside of the body so that it doesn’t interfere with everyday activities such as work, exercise, recreation, showering, or sexual activity.
Transitioning from in-center dialysis to PD
Many people who start in-center hemodialysis may transition to a home dialysis treatment. You may have more freedom and flexibility, but you certainly won’t be alone. You’re only a phone call away from a highly trained home dialysis clinical team that’s dedicated to delivering superior care and making your experience as comfortable as possible an on-call nurse is available 24/7, as is vendor support for your PD cycler.
Talk to your nephrologist and care team to see if PD is the right treatment option for you. To learn more about PD, read about the Benefits of Peritoneal Dialysis.
Common Questions of Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)
Infections are more common with PD (than other modality choices).
Peritonitis, the most common infection for people with PD, can be prevented with proper training and handwashing techniques. If an infection does develop, it can often be treated at home with antibiotics. People on PD have a lower risk of blood infections and are hospitalized less frequently than people on in-center hemodialysis (ICHD). You are also more likely to get a kidney transplant in the U.S. than the experience of a case of peritonitis.
PD is very time-consuming.
PD may allow you more time to spend with family and friends, at work, or simply do what you love most because you can perform dialysis outside of a dialysis center. Additionally, if you choose continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD), you will dialyze while you sleep and spend an average of three hours per week setting up and cleaning equipment.
PD is not practical for anyone who is overweight, tall, or muscular.
People with large body masses can do well on PD. Studies show that mortality and infection rates are similar for people with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) who have a higher body mass and are on PD than those on in-center hemodialysis (HD). People who are on PD and overweight should be monitored carefully because of an increased risk of catheter infections and peritonitis.
PD is not an option for anyone with disabilities.
Although PD may be more challenging for people with certain disabilities (blindness, deafness, amputation, etc.), this treatment may still be an option. With the help of a care partner and/or special equipment it can often be done. Training and safety programs are available to educate you and your care partner on how to perform safe and effective treatments.
PD is not an option for older people.
There are no age limits for this treatment option. Elderly people, as well as children, may be able to perform PD with the help of a care partner. Care partners can make it easier to perform treatments, which may help you feel more confident and comfortable dialyzing at home.
People on PD can’t own pets.
Pets cannot be in the room while you are performing PD, but you can still have them. Be sure to keep your home and designated treatment area clean.
Benefits of Peritoneal Dialysis
Potential for better control of your treatment and a more flexible schedule
- You’re able to administer your treatment
- PD can be done with a machine (cycler) overnight or manually throughout the day.
- PD equipment can be shipped right to your home
- Needles are not required to perform PD.
Potential for greater ability to pursue your interests
- Because PD is performed in the comfort of your home
- You’ll make fewer trips to the dialysis center
- You’ll most likely have fewer dietary restrictions.
Potential for a greater feeling of well-being
- There are shorter recovery times between treatments