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Dialysis is a treatment that takes over the job of your kidneys if they
fail. The kidneys have many functions that help your body stay healthy. They help clear toxins out of your blood and help your body balance salt levels. Most people begin dialysis when their kidneys have lost 85%-90% of their ability. You may be on dialysis for a short time, you may need it for the rest of your life, or until you receive a kidney transplant.
If you have kidneys that are not working and the damage is not reversible, you have
end-stage renal disease
(ESRD). ESRD is caused by conditions such as diabetes,
kidney cancer, drug use,
high blood pressure, or other kidney problems. Dialysis is not a cure for ESRD, but it does help you feel better and live longer.
There are two types of dialysis:
peritoneal dialysis. This fact sheet will focus on peritoneal dialysis.
The main functions of peritoneal dialysis are to:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
Before the first treatment, a small, soft tube about 24 inches long will be placed in the abdomen. This tube will remain there permanently. A portion of the tube remains outside the body for use in the process. It is important to keep this access clean and dry to prevent infection.
Peritoneal dialysis can often be done at home.
The abdominal lining is called the peritoneal membrane. It is used to filter blood. A cleansing solution, called a dialysate, is inserted into your abdominal cavity through a tube. Fluid, wastes, and chemicals pass from the tiny blood vessels in the peritoneal membrane into the dialysate. The dialysate is drained after several hours. New dialysate can be added to repeat the process.
There are three types of peritoneal dialysis:
The time needed for peritoneal dialysis depends on a few factors:
The approximate time and frequency of each type:
In general, peritoneal dialysis does not cause pain.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s
instructions. There are some special considerations.
Certain dietary guidelines should be followed. This will help to maintain overall health and optimize treatment effects. Talk to your doctor about your specific dietary needs.
Your doctor may give you various medications. These include, but are not limited to:
Contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Kidney Dialysis Foundation
National Kidney Foundation
Kidney Foundation of Canada
Dialysis. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at:
https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/dialysisinfo. Accessed August 13, 2013.
Peritoneal dialysis dose and adequacy.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
Updated September 2, 2010. Accessed August 13, 2013.
Last reviewed May 2015 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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