Understanding Peritoneal Dialysis

If you or a loved one are living with chronic kidney disease or kidney failure, peritoneal dialysis may be an excellent treatment option for you.

This type of dialysis offers an alternative to traditional hemodialysis.

Here, we will delve into the process, benefits, and considerations associated with peritoneal dialysis.

We will also examine its suitability for different patients and its role in managing chronic kidney disease.

Woman smiling at home

What is Peritoneal Dialysis?

Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is a renal replacement therapy used to treat individuals with kidney failure, in which the kidneys cannot adequately filter waste products and excess fluids from the bloodstream.

The critical feature of PD dialysis is its use of the peritoneum, a natural membrane that lines the inside of the abdominal cavity. This membrane acts as a semi-permeable barrier, exchanging fluids and waste products between the blood vessels in the abdominal lining and a specially prepared dialysis solution.

Peritoneal dialysis can be performed manually or with the help of a machine known as a cycler. It is important to know that patients or their caregivers are responsible for daily peritoneal dialysis treatments.

Peritoneal dialysis provides greater flexibility and is performed at home. It is a suitable option for many individuals with kidney disease who wish to avoid frequent visits to a dialysis center. However, it requires a dedicated care routine and close monitoring to ensure effectiveness and safety.

How Does Peritoneal Dialysis Work?

In PD dialysis, a sterile dialysis solution, typically containing a mixture of electrolytes and glucose, is introduced into the patient’s abdominal cavity through a catheter, a soft tube implanted into the abdominal wall.

The dialysate solution remains in the peritoneal cavity for a prescribed period known as a “dwell time.” The solution draws waste products and excess fluids from the bloodstream through the peritoneum during the designated dwell time. The dialysate is drained, carrying away these toxins and excess fluid, leaving the body more balanced and healthier.

How Long is PD Dwell Time?

The dwell time of peritoneal dialysis is a critical component as it directly influences the effectiveness of the treatment.

Dwell time depends on the patient’s prescribed treatment plan and the type of peritoneal dialysis being performed, such as continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) or automated peritoneal dialysis (APD).

If you are a candidate for PD dialysis, your healthcare team will carefully determine your optimal dwell time to ensure that the desired levels of waste removal and fluid balance are achieved.

Peritoneal Dialysis at Home

Performing peritoneal dialysis at home offers several advantages, making it a popular choice for many patients.

Here are the key benefits, as well as the necessary equipment and supplies for home dialysis:


  • Flexibility to schedule treatments around daily routines and obligations, offering greater independence
  • Reduced travel time to dialysis treatment centers
  • More frequent treatments
  • Lower dietary restrictions
  • Easy to travel

Some peritoneal dialysis patients may also experience better preservation of their residual kidney function, which is the remaining ability of the kidneys to remove waste and excess fluid from the blood.

Home dialysis supplies

Necessary Equipment and Supplies

  • A catheter, surgically placed in the abdominal wall, serves as the entry and exit point for the dialysis solution.
  • Dialysis solution (Dialysate) containing electrolytes and glucose necessary for fluid exchange
  • Clamps and tubing are used to control the flow of dialysate
  • Proper supplies like masks, cleansing agents, and dressings to prevent infection
  • Adequate storage for the supplies and a dedicated clean area for exchanges

It’s important to know that patients and caregivers must undergo comprehensive training to learn the correct techniques for performing peritoneal dialysis at home and maintaining equipment.

FAQ about PD Dialysis

How Long Can You Live on Peritoneal Dialysis?

According to the National Kidney Foundation, life expectancy on dialysis varies widely based on individual medical conditions, treatment adherence, and other factors.

While the average life expectancy on dialysis is around 5-10 years, numerous patients have successfully maintained their quality of life for 20 to 30 years on dialysis.

What Are Potential Peritoneal Dialysis Complications?

Potential complications of peritoneal dialysis include peritonitis, a serious infection of the abdominal lining, which can result from contamination, poor catheter hygiene, or weakened immunity.

Catheter dysfunction may occur due to catheter displacement or blockage.

Additionally, peritoneal infections, hernias, and exit site infections are risks and complications for PD dialysis patients.

Will I Need to Follow a Special Diet on PD?

Yes, individuals on peritoneal dialysis often need to follow a special diet. This diet typically involves limitations on specific nutrients and fluids.

Patients should monitor their sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and fluid intake. Foods high in these substances, like processed foods, certain fruits, and dairy products, should be limited.

Working closely with your specialized kidney dietitian to create a personalized dietary plan that aligns with the specific needs to maintain your overall health and well-being on PD is essential.

Effective and Personalized Peritoneal Dialysis Near You

You shouldn’t feel limited by your treatment options for chronic kidney disease.

Innovative Renal Care is committed to providing personalized peritoneal dialysis that brings our patients the best in renal care and a renewed sense of hope and well-being.

Our mission is to make advanced and tailored kidney support easily accessible to all, offering a brighter future for those facing the challenges of kidney disease.

Your journey to optimal renal care begins.

Is residual kidney function discussed elsewhere in all of this education? If not, there may be a need for a link that leads to the explanation of the residual function and why it is good to preserve.

“You’ll never find the quality of care that you get at an ARA facility anywhere else. The staff always have your best interest at heart and will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and help however they can. The truth is, I consider them my extended family!” 

Mr. Randal Beatty, University Kidney Center Hikes Lane, Louisville, KY