by Editorial Staff And Contributors
Dialysis is a treatment that takes over the job of your kidneys. There are two types of dialysis. This fact sheet will focus on peritoneal dialysis. It uses the lining of your abdomen and a special solution to filter your blood.
Reasons for Procedure
The kidneys have many important jobs. They clear toxins out of your blood and help balance fluid and mineral levels in the body. Dialysis may be needed if the kidneys are not able to work well. It may be started when the kidneys have lost more than 90% of their function.
The main functions of peritoneal dialysis are to:
Dialysis may be used short term to allow your kidneys to rest and heal. If the kidney damage is permanent, dialysis will be needed for the rest of your life. It can improve the quality and length of life in people with severe kidney disease.
People with obesity or previous surgery in the belly area may not be able to use this type of dialysis.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
The doctor will talk about ways to lower the risk of problems. Steps that can help are:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
A small, soft tube about 24 inches long will be placed in the belly. One part of the tube will remain outside of the body. It may need to be placed 10 to 14 days before it can be used. It will need regular care to decrease the risk of infection.
Description of the Procedure
A solution, called a dialysate, is passed through your tube. It will remain in the belly wall for the next few hours.
The lining of the belly has many tiny blood vessels. The solution sits next to these blood vessels. Fluid, waste, and chemicals can move from the blood vessels into the solution. After several hours, the solution will be drained through the tube. It will take waste from the blood with it. New solution may then be added to repeat the process.
There are different delivery options:
How Long Will It Take?
The time needed for peritoneal dialysis depends on a few factors:
Will It Hurt?
In general, it does not cause pain.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. There are some special considerations.
You may need a special diet. This will help your overall health. It can also make treatment more effective. Ask your doctor about your specific needs.
Call Your Doctor
Contact your doctor if any of the following occur:
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: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/atozTopic_Dialysis. Accessed June 11, 2020.
Peritoneal dialysis: Dose & adequacy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
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Updated September 2010. Accessed June 11, 2020.
Peritoneal dialysis for end-stage renal disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
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Accessed June 11, 2020.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 6/7/2020
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