Peritoneal dialysis is the most common form of home dialysis. We have one of the largest peritoneal dialysis programs in the mid-Atlantic region.
Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your abdominal cavity (peritoneum) to help your kidneys filter toxins and extra fluid. Because this form of dialysis closely mirrors your kidneys’ natural functioning, patients on peritoneal dialysis enjoy more flexibility with respect to diet and medications.
Highlights of our program include:
- Care that focuses on your needs.
- Innovative research: Our research into kidney disease and dialysis gives you access to devices and peritoneal dialysis solutions that are not widely available. We use mobile devices to improve access to nephrology care for patients living in remote areas.
- Range of treatments: Dialysis is not your only treatment option. We also offer one of the busiest kidney transplant programs in Virginia.
Is Peritoneal Dialysis Right for You?
You may benefit from peritoneal dialysis if you:
- Need flexibility in your schedule due to work or school obligations.
- Can either set up dialysis equipment on your own or have a friend or family member who can help.
- Do not have other medical conditions, such as diabetes, that require ongoing medical care.
- Can perform dialysis on a regular basis and at specific times.
- Have not had previous surgery or organ damage in your abdominal area.
Through kidney disease education classes and discussions with our care team, we help you decide whether peritoneal dialysis is right for your medical needs, lifestyle and preferences.
Peritoneal Dialysis: What to Expect
We start working with you and your family several weeks before your first treatment so you know exactly what to expect.
- Dialysis access: A peritoneal access is a small flexible tube (catheter) we surgically insert into your lower stomach area (abdomen). Your access makes it possible for you to pour dialysis solution directly into your abdomen.
- Home training program: A team of dialysis nurses, social workers and dietitians teaches you everything you need to know. Your training includes learning how to give yourself treatments, prevent complications and reach us if you have questions.
- Equipment and supplies: We help you get all the equipment and supplies you need. We also tell you how to order more supplies and what to do if you have any problems.
Blood Filtering: How it Works
Peritoneal dialysis features several steps:
- You use the catheter to fill your abdomen with dialysis solution (dialysate). This step is painless, although you may experience a sensation similar to having a full stomach.
- The dialysate stays in your abdomen, allowing special sugars to draw out the toxins in your blood. Toxins pass through tiny blood vessels (capillaries) in the peritoneum into the dialysate.
- The length of time you keep the dialysate in your abdomen (dwell time) can last anywhere from four to six hours.
- Once the dwell time is up, you drain the dialysate into a disposable bag.
- The process of filling your abdomen, allowing the solution to dwell and draining it, is called an exchange.
- We let you know how much dwell time and how many exchanges you need to perform each day.
CAPD and CCPD Dialysis Techniques
We offer two types of peritoneal dialysis:
- Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD): In addition to performing regular exchanges during the day, you also do a longer, overnight exchange.
- Continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD): Also known as automated peritoneal dialysis, CCPD uses a machine (automated cycler) to perform exchanges at night while you sleep. You begin each morning with an exchange that lasts all day.
Follow-Up Care and Ongoing Support
You receive monthly follow-up care at one of our dialysis unit locations.
During visits you receive:
- Testing: We run lab tests to see how well the dialysis is cleaning your blood. If you are getting too much or too little dialysis, we adjust your treatment plan. You may need changes to your dialysate or longer or shorter exchanges.
- Support: Our dedicated dialysis nurses, dietitians and social workers offer ongoing support and information to help you stay healthy between visits. Dedicated home dialysis staff members are available by phone any time you have questions or need help.