Peritoneal dialysis is a way to remove waste products from the blood when the kidneys are no longer functioning adequately, usually in the case of end-stage renal disease. Unlike hemodialysis, which requires patients to come to the hospital for treatment, peritoneal dialysis can be done at home, at work, or even while traveling. During dialysis, the inside of the patient’s abdomen (peritoneal cavity) is filled with a special dialysis fluid. While the fluid is in the peritoneal cavity, extra fluid and waste travel across the peritoneal membrane into the dialysis fluid. After a few hours, the fluid is drained and replaced with new fluid. This process is repeated four to six times a day.
There are usually few medications involved with peritoneal dialysis and a less restrictive diet. This treatment is not an option for everyone with renal failure, though, as it requires that patients are able to care for the equipment themselves or have a reliable caregiver to do so.
The Tenckhoff catheter is a flexible plastic tube that is placed in the peritoneal cavity to allow dialysis fluid to be introduced into the abdomen and to drain it once waste products have entered the fluid. The catheter must be placed about two weeks before dialysis is started.