Peritoneal Dialysis


Dialysis takes over the job of your kidneys if they fail. The kidneys have many functions that keep your body healthy. They filter the blood and make urine. They also balance fluid and salt levels in your blood. You may be on dialysis for a short time or it may be for life. Some people need it until a kidney transplant is ready.

Diabetes, kidney cancer, certain medicines, and high blood pressure can harm the kidneys. Damage to the tiny tubules that filter blood make it harder for them to work well. Over time, this can lead to a buildup of wastes and fluid in the blood.

There are 2 types of dialysis, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis (PD). This fact sheet will focus on PD.

Reasons for Procedure    TOP

PD will

  • Remove wastes and extra fluids from your blood
  • Control blood pressure
  • Keep a safe level of salts in the body

Possible Complications    TOP

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all have some risk. Your doctor will review possible problems, like:

  • Infection where the tube enters the body
  • Infection in the belly—peritonitis
  • Hernias
  • Low amounts of red blood cells—anemia
  • Fluid buildup in the belly
  • Changes in mental state

Talk to your doctor about how to lower your chances of problems by managing:

What to Expect    TOP

Prior to Procedure

A 2 foot, soft tube long is placed in the belly. This tube stays in during the course of care. A part of the tube is outside the body. It needs to stay clean and dry to lower the chances of infection.

Description of the Procedure

People who need PD can usually do it at home.

The belly is an area with organs and open spaces. The peritoneal space is line with a membrane. This membrane will filter the blood. Dialysate is a cleansing solution. It enters the body through the tube. Fluids and wastes pass from the blood vessels in the membrane and into the solution. The solution drains out through the tube after a few hours.

There are 3 types of PD:

  • Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD)—A bag of solution is pushed into the belly through a plastic tube. It’s drained from the belly after 3-6 hours. Then, fresh solution replaces it.
  • Continuous cyclical peritoneal dialysis (CCPD)—A machine fills and empties the belly. CCPD can be done at night during sleep.
  • Intermittent peritoneal dialysis (IPD)—This uses the same type of machine as CCPD. You need help with IPD so it’s done at a health facility. It often takes longer than CCPD.

Peritoneal Dialysis

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How Long Will It Take?    TOP

The time needed for PD depends on:

  • How much kidney function remains
  • How much fluid weight gain has occurred since the last round
  • Amount of waste in the body
  • Body size
  • Level of salts in your body
  • The type of PD used
TypeLength of TimeHow Often
CAPD3-6 hours, plus 30 minutes to drain4 times/day
CCPD9-12 hoursEvery night
IPD12 + hours36-42 hours/week

Will It Hurt?    TOP

PD doesn't cause pain.

Post-procedure Care    TOP

You may need to:

Make Changes to Your Diet

You may have a special diet. This will help you stay healthy. It also helps you get the most from PD. Your doctor will advise you on what you need to do.

Take Medicines

Your doctor may give you medicines to:

  • Control high blood pressure
  • Maintain mineral levels such as calcium
  • Remove extra fluid
  • Prevent or treat constipation
  • Raise iron intake to make more red blood cells
  • Help the body to make more red blood cells

Call Your Doctor    TOP

Call your doctor if any of these occur:

  • Fever or chills
  • Problems where the tube was placed such as:
    • Redness
    • Swelling
    • Warmth
    • Pain
    • Bleeding
    • Pus
  • Blood or cloudiness in the cleaning solution
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Belly pain
  • Lightheadedness

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Kidney Foundation


The Kidney Foundation of Canada


Dialysis. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: Accessed June 11, 2018.
Peritoneal dialysis: Dose & adequacy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated September 2010. Accessed June 11, 2018.
Peritoneal dialysis for end-stage renal disease. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated December 28, 2017. Accessed June 11, 2018.
Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 6/7/2018

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