Peritoneal Dialysis

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Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your abdominal organs to filter your blood. This lining, called the peritoneal membrane, acts like an artificial kidney. A dialysis solution of minerals and sugar (dextrose) travels through a soft tube into your abdomen. The dextrose draws wastes, chemicals, and extra water from the tiny blood vessels in your peritoneal membrane through the membrane and into the dialysis solution. After several hours, the used solution is drained from your abdomen through the tube, taking the wastes from your blood with it. Then your abdomen is filled with a fresh dialysis solution, and the cycle is repeated.

Before your first treatment, a surgeon places a small soft tube called a catheter into your abdomen. The catheter tends to work better if there is adequate time (usually from 10 to 20 days) for the insertion site to heal. This catheter stays there permanently.

There are three varieties of peritoneal dialysis: continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis, continuous cycler-assisted peritoneal dialysis (which requires a machine), and a combination of the two. Patients usually can perform peritoneal dialysis at home without assistance.

The most common problem with peritoneal dialysis is peritonitis, a serious abdominal infection. This infection can occur if the opening where the catheter enters your body becomes infected or if contamination occurs as the catheter is connected and disconnected. The treatment is antibiotics.

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