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Peritoneal Dialysis at Home

In peritoneal dialysis, the inside lining of your own belly acts as a natural filter. Wastes are taken out by means of a cleansing fluid called dialysate, which is washed in and out of your belly in cycles. A soft plastic tube (catheter) is placed in your belly by surgery. A sterile cleansing fluid is put into your belly through this catheter. After the filtering process is finished, the fluid leaves your body through the catheter.

The dialysate stays in the belly for four to six hours before being drained along with the toxins and fluid from the blood that have been filtered by the peritoneum. New dialysate solution is then refilled in the cavity for another four to six hours. This is called an exchange. Patients usually do four exchanges every day. Each exchange may take about 30 minutes. Exchanges may be done at home or in any clean place, such as work or school. A nurse trains the patient how to do exchanges and is always available for questions or problems. No machine is needed. Supplies are delivered directly to the home. This kind of peritoneal dialysis is called Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD).

Another kind of peritoneal dialysis is continuous Cycling Peritoneal Dialysis (CCPD). This method uses the same peritoneal membrane as a filter and the peritoneal catheter in the abdomen. CCPD is done at home overnight (up to 10 hours) using a special machine, called the cycler, to fill and drain the peritoneal cavity with dialysate. By morning, the toxins and fluid have been safely removed from the patient's blood. Because you are constantly dialyzing while on CAPD or CCPD, your diet and fluids may be less restricted. It is still important to take your medications and see your physician.

Is Peritoneal Dialysis Right for You?

Advantages

  • Allows you to be independent and perform treatment yourself
  • Can be done at flexible hours
  • Can be done in any clean location
  • Fewer diet restrictions
  • Allows greater ease in travel
  • Training period is four to five days
  • Medicare reimbursement begins the day you begin training, if eligible for Social Security

Disadvantages

  • Must be performed daily, usually four times a day
  • Risk of infection
  • Potential weight gain
  • Fluid may increase size of the abdomen
  • Requires a plastic tube in the abdomen wall
  • Supplies need to be stored at home or taken along with you for exchanges away from home