Peritoneal Dialysis

When a person has a problem where the kidneys do not function as they should, the procedure called Dialysis becomes mandatory as a life-saving treatment. Dialysis is a process that substitutes for the work your kidneys are supposed to do. This type of treatment is readily available to assist you in leading a normal and productive life.

When deciding on the type of Dialysis treatment for renal failure, whether due to kidney damage or end stage renal disease, you have two options to choose from – Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis. They both remove wastes from the blood but in different ways. Here we explain Peritoneal dialysis and how it compares with Hemodialysis.

How Peritoneal Dialysis and Hemodialysis Differ

Hemodialysis is a process that removes wastes and excess water by pumping small amounts of blood outside the body, through tubes and an external filter. This is done by the use of a Dialysis machine. To receive this procedure, a patient must visit a Dialysis clinic and spend around four hours, three times a week sitting there, being monitored while connected to the Dialysis machine.

With Peritoneal Dialysis, the process of removing wastes and excess water is done inside the body. Instead of an external filter, the filter used is the peritoneal membrane of the abdominal cavity surrounding the intestine. All this takes place internally rather than externally, as with Hemodialysis.

Peritoneal Dialysis and How it Works

Peritoneal Dialysis works by having a catheter surgically inserted in the abdomen of the patient. Through this soft tube, a special solution flows into the patient’s abdominal cavity and the wastes, minerals and other toxins are pulled into the solution. Later the solution is drained from the abdomen, along with all the waste products. This exchange takes around 30 to 40 minutes, done on different schedules depending on the form of PD used.

There are two types of Peritoneal Dialysis. These are:

  • Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD)
  • Continuous cycler-assisted peritoneal dialysis (CCPD)

With CAPD, it is just as it is called, ambulatory. You don’t need any type of machine hooked up, and once your abdomen is filled with the solution, you can walk around. The filling and draining (called the “exchange”) is done on a schedule dictated by your doctor.

When using CCPD, a machine is used that fills and drains your abdomen while you sleep. There are usually about 3 to 5 exchanges that happen during this time. In the morning, you will fill with the solution and don’t have to drain again until the end of the day.

The Healthcare Team You’ll Need for Peritoneal Dialysis

The people you will work with when you begin and throughout your Peritoneal Dialysis treatments will be your Nephrologist, Dialysis Technician, Dialysis Nurse and a Dietitian. You will also be assigned a Social Worker. This team will be most important when you start treatment, as they will need to perform tests to determine the proper amount of fluid and how often.

The Surgery

Surgery is needed to place the catheter in the abdomen. One end is in the abdomen cavity and one end protrudes. Two techniques are used to insert the tube, one is open surgery with a general anesthetic and one is done using only a local anesthetic. Exchanges will start right away but there will be a “break-in” period before you begin receiving regular exchanges.

Advantages to Peritoneal Dialysis

The advantages to Peritoneal Dialysis are many. First and foremost, the fact that it is done at home by the person himself is quite advantageous. You don’t have to go to a center three times a week, at around four hours a visit. You can even use Peritoneal Dialysis when you are at work or on a trip.

Because the procedure is continuous, symptoms don’t escalate as much as they might with Hemodialysis and longer periods between flushing. The patient has greater mobility, and this can be important particularly with young people and those working full time or at school.

Although support is available to anyone on PD, it isn’t absolutely necessary. The cost is about the same for either form of treatment.

Things to be Aware of in Preventing Problems

Naturally, any health-related procedure done at home has comparable risks, but education is a large factor in preventing any problems that could be encountered. The healthcare team will show you how to avoid infection, how to care for your supplies and how to maintain sanitation. They will inform you of all the things to watch out for that mean trouble.

Peritoneal Dialysis is a life-saving procedure that, when done correctly and with care, allows a person to lead a productive and happy life without constant visits to a dialysis facility.

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