by Editorial Staff And Contributors
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: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. This fact sheet will focus on peritoneal dialysis.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
The main functions of peritoneal dialysis are to:
Possible Complications TOP
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:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
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.
Description of the Procedure
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:
How Long Will It Take? TOP
The time needed for peritoneal dialysis depends on a few factors:
The approximate time and frequency of each type:
Will It Hurt? TOP
In general, peritoneal dialysis does not cause pain.
Post-procedure Care TOP
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:
Call Your Doctor TOP
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
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:
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Updated September 2, 2010. Accessed August 13, 2013.
Last reviewed May 2015 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 5/28/2014