Peritoneal Dialysis Catheter

A peritoneal dialysis catheter is a tube that is placed in the abdomen of patients who want to administer their own treatment while at home. This acts as an alternative to clinical dialysis. In order for home dialysis to be successful, a patient must use the peritoneal dialysis catheter to fill the abdomen with fluid. This fluid is designed to allow water and waste to leave the blood vessels in the abdomen and enter the fluid. The fluid is then removed from the abdominal cavity in a process known as an exchange.


There are many benefits associated with self-administered dialysis that often appeal to patients. One of the most important benefits is the ability to receive treatment while at home, work, or during travel. It can be extremely difficult for patients to accept the need to make multiple trips to a dialysis clinic each week when all they want to do is have the freedom to go on living their lives. Peritoneal dialysis gives patients the option to receive treatment while continuing to enjoy the activities of daily living that they have grown accustomed to. Although the placement of a peritoneal dialysis catheter can be unnerving to some patients, it is often a trade-off that individuals are willing to make.

The fluid and food restrictions that are associated with dialysis administered in a clinic are often some of the most challenging changes that an end stage renal disease patient must adopt. Individuals who elect to self-administer treatment are often able to consume many of the fluids and foods that they have come to enjoy. While many patients still need to make some adjustments to their diet, a peritoneal dialysis catheter may be the key to helping them feel like their life is still somewhat intact. The ability to take control of one’s treatment and not be bound to a chair for hours on end is critical to improving the mental well-being of patients and can lead to improved health outcomes.

Individuals who are considering a peritoneal dialysis catheter as a treatment option should be aware of the risks that are commonly associated with this type of therapy. Because self-administered treatment requires the surgical placement of a tube in the abdomen, there is risk of infection. It is critical that patients who perform peritoneal dialysis pay very close attention to how sanitary their exchange process is. Before a kidney failure patient is allowed to perform dialysis at home, the nursing team will teach the patient about the steps that need to be taken to prevent infection. Patients must be extremely diligent in making sure they are washing their hands and wearing a mask. In the event that the peritoneal dialysis catheter becomes infected, a patient’s ability to continue to self-administer dialysis may come to an end.

Not all kidney disease patients are able to qualify for peritoneal dialysis. In most cases, a patient must still have some kidney function that can assist in the filtration process. Since peritoneal dialysis cannot fully compensate for an entire loss in kidney function, patients who have poorly functioning kidneys or who have experienced a decrease in their ability to filter the blood using the abdominal cavity may be required to return to the clinic for treatment. Most patients do not qualify for a peritoneal dialysis catheter and are required to receive clinical treatments. In 2009, the United States Renal Data System (USRDS) estimated that 2.4% of patients were using continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis while 4.5% were using continuous cycling or automated dialysis.


Patients using self-administered dialysis as a form of treatment still need to be monitored. Adhering to a rigid schedule of treatment with exchanges that occur multiple times a day can be challenging. Dialysis clinics will ask that patients come in for regular visits so that labs can be analyzed and issues relating to patient support systems can be addressed. In addition, the site of the peritoneal dialysis catheter must be thoroughly inspected for signs of infection and exchange protocols will need to be reviewed with the patient.

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