What is peritoneal dialysis?

Reading time: 2 min

Peritoneal dialysis is a renal function replacement therapy that consists of eliminating excess toxins and fluid from the body by passing them across the natural membrane (the peritoneum) enclosing the organs found inside the abdominal cavity. 

How is peritoneal dialysis done?

Firstly, a narrow, flexible tube (peritoneal catheter) is placed inside the abdomen in an operation carried out under general anaesthesia.

The tube is used to introduce dialysis fluid (normally 2 litres) into the abdominal cavity; this is then left to act for a few hours so that it can eliminate the toxic substances and excess water from inside the peritoneum. The abdominal cavity is then drained and refilled with a clean volume of fluid. The cycle is successively repeated. 

Patients must also receive 1–2 weeks of training from healthcare personnel. After training, patients will carry out the treatment at home and visit the hospital for routine check-ups. 

Where is peritoneal dialysis carried out?

Peritoneal dialysis is carried out at the patient’s home and can be done either manually or automatically.

  • Manual or Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD). This technique does not involve any machines. The fluid from the peritoneal dialysis bag is fed into the abdominal cavity. The catheter is then closed for 4–6 hours, after which the ‘dirty’ solution is drained and discarded. A new bag of fluid is then attached to the same catheter and so on successively, usually 3 or 4 times per day. 
  • Automatic Peritoneal Dialysis (APD). This system uses a machine to automatically fill and drain the fluid from the abdomen. It is normally carried out for 8–10 hours while the patient is asleep. 

How often do I have to do Peritoneal Dialysis?

Peritoneal dialysis is completed on a daily basis in the patient’s home. 

Substantiated information by:

Anna Yuguero
Bárbara Romano Andrioni
Manel Vera Rivera
Marta Quintela Martínez
María Teresa López Alonso
Montserrat Monereo Font
Ángeles Mayordomo Sanz

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018


Receive the latest updates related to this content.

Thank you for subscribing!

If this is the first time you subscribe you will receive a confirmation email, check your inbox

An error occurred and we were unable to send your data, please try again later.