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Peritoneal Dialysis

The peritoneum is a membrane that lines the abdominal cavity. Peritoneal dialysis uses this membrane as the cleansing filter for your bloodstream.
The access point for peritoneal dialysis is a catheter, which is a soft plastic tube inserted into your abdominal cavity. Part of the catheter remains outside your body, typically near your navel, and it is sealed when not in use. At the beginning of each peritoneal dialysis session, you will connect a pouch containing dialysate to your catheter. The dialysate flows into your abdominal cavity and stays there for a length of time (prescribed by your doctor); at the end of the session, called an “exchange,” the dialysate is drained from your abdomen.

Peritoneal dialysis is a type of home dialysis, meaning you will perform it yourself in the comfort of your own home. During peritoneal dialysis, the dialysate sits in your abdominal cavity and absorbs excess fluid, salts and waste from the tiny blood vessels within the peritoneum. When you empty the dialysate at the end of the exchange, you are also removing the waste products.

One of the benefits of peritoneal dialysis is that there are many options for exchange cycles. Depending on your doctor’s recommendations, you may have the option to dialyze while you sleep using a machine called a cycler, or you may be able to perform several manual exchanges during the day. You and your doctor will decide the best exchange schedule for your health and lifestyle needs. Dialyspa nurses will provide complete training for peritoneal dialysis.

Pros and Cons of Peritoneal Dialysis


• Dialyze in the privacy and comfort of your own home
• Dialyze at the time most convenient for your daily schedule
• Manual exchanges can be performed in any location, even at work
• Caregiver or partner assistance not required
• No needle sticks
• Can be performed while you sleep using a cycler


• Catheter will protrude from your waistline
• Catheters may be prone to infection
• May experience weight gain
• Requires daily treatments
• Requires home storage of cycler machine (if applicable)
• Requires careful training
• Cyclers can restrict nighttime movement

Catheter Care

  • Thoroughly wash your hands before and after each exchange.
  • Keep your catheter site clean at all times to prevent infection.
  • Monitor your catheter site for signs of infection. These can include swelling, tenderness, redness, or discharge from the catheter site. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing around your catheter site.
  • Do not pinch or pull your catheter.
  • Do not use sharp objects near your catheter.
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