Peritoneal Dialysis

How does peritoneal dialysis work?

A soft plastic tube (catheter) is placed in your belly by surgery. A sterile cleansing fluid is put into your belly through this catheter. After the filtering process is finished, the fluid leaves your body through the catheter.

There are two kinds of peritoneal dialysis:

Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD)
Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD)
The basic treatment is the same for each. However, the number of treatments and the way the treatments are done make each method different.

CAPD is “continuous,” machine-free and done while you go about your normal activities such as work or school. You do the treatment by placing about two quarts of cleansing fluid into your belly and later draining it. This is done by hooking up a plastic bag of cleansing fluid to the tube in your belly. Raising the plastic bag to shoulder level causes gravity to pull the fluid into your belly. When empty, the plastic bag is removed and thrown away.

When an exchange (putting in and taking out the fluid) is finished, the fluid (which now has wastes removed from your blood) is drained from your belly and thrown away. This process usually is done three, four or five times in a 24-hour period while you are awake during normal activities. Each exchange takes about 30 to 40 minutes. Some patients like to do their exchanges at mealtimes and at bedtime.

APD differs from CAPD in that a machine (cycler) delivers and then drains the cleansing fluid for you. The treatment usually is done at night while you sleep.

What kind of peritoneal dialysis is best?

The type of peritoneal dialysis that is best for you depends on your personal choice and your medical condition. Your doctor will help you to choose the one that is best for you.