Peritoneal dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis (per-ih-tuh-NEE-ul di-AL-uh-sis) is a way to remove waste products from your blood when your kidneys can no longer do the job adequately. During peritoneal dialysis, blood vessels in your abdominal lining (peritoneum) fill in for your kidneys, with the help of a fluid (dialysate) that flows into and out of the peritoneal space.

Peritoneal dialysis differs from hemodialysis, a more commonly used blood-filtering procedure. With peritoneal dialysis, you can give yourself treatments at home, at work or while traveling. You may be able to use fewer medications and eat a less restrictive diet than you can with hemodialysis.

Peritoneal dialysis isn't an option for everyone with kidney failure. You need manual dexterity and the ability to care for yourself at home or a reliable caregiver.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

Peritoneal dialysis may be done to manage kidney failure until a kidney transplant is possible. Kidney failure itself usually results from a long-term (chronic) disease that causes kidney damage over a number of years. Common causes of kidney failure include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis)
  • Multiple cysts in the kidneys (polycystic kidney disease)

Your doctor can help you decide which type of dialysis will work best for you and when you should start, based on several factors:

  • Your overall health
  • Your kidney function (as measured by blood and urine tests)
  • Your personal preferences
  • Your home situation

Peritoneal dialysis may be the better option if:

  • You can't tolerate the rapid changes of fluid balance associated with hemodialysis. During hemodialysis, your blood is pumped into a machine to be filtered and then returned to your body.
  • You want to minimize the disruption of your daily activities and work or travel more easily.

Peritoneal dialysis might not work for you if:

  • You have extensive surgical scars in your abdomen
  • You have a large abdominal hernia
  • You have a limited ability to care for yourself or lack caregiving support at home
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease or frequent bouts of diverticulitis
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