What is peritoneal dialysis?

In peritoneal dialysis, the blood is cleaned inside your body, not outside as with hemodialysis. The inside lining of your own belly acts as a natural filter. You will need a minor operation to place a catheter in your abdomen (belly) for access. During the treatment, the abdominal area (called the peritoneal cavity) is slowly filled with dialysate (dialysis fluid) through the catheter. The blood stays in the arteries and veins (blood vessels) that line the peritoneal cavity. Extra fluid and waste products are drawn out of the blood and into the dialysate.
There are two kinds of peritoneal dialysis:
  • Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD): With CAPD, you do the exchanges yourself three to four times a day. There are no machines. You put a bag of dialysate (about two quarts) into the peritoneal cavity through the catheter. The dialysate stays there for about four or five hours before it is drained back into the bag and thrown away.
  • Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD): ADP is usually done at home using a special machine called a cycler, which delivers and then drains the cleansing fluid for you. Treatments are usually done at the night while you sleep.
You can watch the following video for more information on peritoneal dialysis, including CAPD and APD: