Peritoneal Dialysis

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Dialysis is a treatment that removes waste from the body, and is used to treat kidney failure. The two main types of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of the abdominal cavity (called the peritoneum) and a solution (called dialysate) to remove waste from the body.

Peritoneal dialysis performs the same function as the kidneys, helping to clean the blood by removing waste and getting rid of extra fluid in the bloodstream.

What is Peritoneal Dialysis?

Peritoneal dialysis is a slow and gentle (but continuous) process that cleans the blood inside your child’s body using the blood-vessel-rich lining of the belly or abdomen. This lining, called the peritoneum [per-i-tn-ee-uh m], forms a “sac” that contains most of the abdominal organs (the peritoneal cavity).  

The peritoneum acts as a specialized filter, removing waste products and excess fluid while keeping in red blood cells and nutrients. Cleansing fluid (dialysate) enters your child’s body through a small tube, where it remains for several hours cleaning the blood. The fluid is then drained out and discarded.

Peritoneal dialysis is usually used to treat children and adults that have kidney failure. The kidneys help remove waste from the body. When the kidneys stop working, are don’t work as well, sometimes waste can build up in the body. When waste builds up in the body, it can make a person very sick and even lead to death if it goes for too long without treatment.

Peritoneal dialysis is done at home by you or another caregiver. People choose PD because it allows more freedom to attend school, play activities, and travel as a family because there is no requirement to be at a center and supplies are portable. Peritoneal dialysis can be done in 1 of 2 ways:

  • Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), which

    is done several times during the day

  • Continuous cycler-assisted peritoneal dialysis (CCPD),  which uses a machine to do your child’s dialysis while they sleep
The other type of dialysis, hemodialysis, uses a machine that filters and cleans the blood outside of the body. This treatment requires a minor surgery weeks before your child’s treatments begin to adapt a blood vessel in the arm or neck for dialysis. Hemodialysis is typically done in an outpatient center several times a week, but in some circumstances can be done at home. It is not as flexible of a treatment option for school and activities because there are specific times your child must have treatment each week.