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Kidney Dialysis

Peritoneal Dialysis and the Kidneys

Peritoneal dialysis cleans the blood using the lining of your abdominal area as a filter. This method allows your blood to be cleaned while you sleep, while you work, or while you perform your everyday activities.

Before your first peritoneal dialysis session, you will need surgery so that your doctor can create access into your abdominal area. The surgeon will make a small surgical cut, most often to the side of your belly button. A plastic tube called a catheter is inserted through this access into the area surrounding the stomach and nearby organs. This is called the peritoneal cavity.

When it is time for dialysis treatment, you will place a cleaning solution called dialysate into the catheter. Your health care team will show you how.

A peritoneal dialysis treatment will consist of three steps:

  • Fill: The dialysis solution flows through the catheter into your belly.
  • Dwell: Waste products and extra fluid in your blood pass through the thin tissue lining the peritoneal cavity and are pulled into the dialysis solution. The amount of time the dialysis solution is in your belly is called the "dwell time." Dwell times may range from four to six hours.
  • Drain: The wastes and extra fluid are removed from your body when you drain the dialysis solution.

The draining and filling process, called an exchange, takes about 30 to 40 minutes. You may need four exchanges a day. There are two main types of peritoneal dialysis. Each has a different exchange schedule.

  • Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD). This type of dialysis is done without a machine. You place the dialysis solution into your catheter and go about your everyday activities or sleep. It is done four or five times a day.
  • Continuous Cycler-assisted Peritoneal Dialysis (CCPD). This type of dialysis uses a machine called a cycler to fill and drain the solution from your belly, usually while you sleep.

Who Needs Kidney Dialysis?

Kidney dialysis is a necessary treatment for people with end-stage kidney disease or permanent kidney failure. You need dialysis if you've lost about 85% to 90% of your kidney function. Temporary dialysis may be needed in some cases.

Hemodialysis is most commonly used to treat people with end-stage kidney disease. However, children who need dialysis often receive peritoneal dialysis.

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