What to Expect

Peritoneal dialysis requires an outpatient surgical procedure to place a small catheter into your abdomen. Your surgeon will discuss with you the best location to avoid crimping the catheter on a pant or belt line.

Once your catheter is in place, you will have about 2-4 inches of tubing remaining outside of your skin.

Your dialysis can be done intermittently during the day or automatically by a machine at night while you sleep. The dialysate and supplies are completely portable, making it easy to travel with this form of dialysis.

Because this dialysis is done every day, the removal of toxins and fluid is similar to how normal kidneys function. You and/or your care partner will perform all aspects of the treatment. Training for peritoneal dialysis typically takes one week.

Diet & nutrition

Nutrition plays a vital role in your dialysis treatment plan. Your dietitian will make sure you get the right amount of calories and protein as well as maintain a healthy body weight. Patients on peritoneal dialysis tend to gain weight over time from the absorption of calories from the dialysate, which contains sugar. Your diet plan will take into account these extra sugar calories from the dialysis and will have the right amount of calories to keep you at a healthy weight. You also will be encouraged to exercise.

Learn more about diet and your kidneys »

Lifestyle

Peritoneal dialysis enables you to maintain a more independent lifestyle than if you were to use in-center hemodialysis because you are able to perform your fluid exchanges at home, at work, or even while traveling.

While it may, at first, seem difficult to handle your dialysis on your own, your peritoneal dialysis team will make sure you are well-trained to handle your dialysis needs and are able to deal with any complications that may arise.

Learn more about lifestyle »

Travel

If you are traveling for business or going on vacation, talk with your renal care team. You may be able to have your supplies shipped directly to your destination. The key is learning to plan in advance. First, check with your physician to see if it is okay to travel. Then, tell the dialysis team your travel dates so we can help get you organized. When possible, you should allow at least 30 to 45 days in advance of travel to ensure you have the right supplies where you need them.

Work

Many people maintain active lives while on dialysis. If, however, you are not able to continue working due to disability once you start any type of dialysis, you can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance by calling 1-800-772-1213. You also can apply at the local social security office or through the human resources department at your place of employment.

Financial concerns

If you have financial concerns, talk with our social worker. We may be able to find you resources to lower the cost of your supplies and care. If you have Medicare, or are eligible for Medicare, or have group health insurance, we can assist with applying for assistance and submitting the proper forms.

Emotional concerns

It may be difficult for you to adjust to peritoneal dialysis. You and your family may be nervous about handling regular fluid exchanges or coping with any potential emergencies. Your feelings are quite normal. Our comprehensive peritoneal training program will do much to calm your fears and concerns. You can contact any member of the peritoneal dialysis team with any questions you may have.