Why it's done

Dialysis is required if your kidneys don't function adequately on their own. Kidney damage generally progresses over a number of years as a result of long-term conditions, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis)
  • Multiple cysts in the kidneys (polycystic kidney disease)

The benefits of peritoneal dialysis compared with hemodialysis can include:

  • Greater lifestyle flexibility and independence. These can be especially important if you work, travel or live far from a hemodialysis center.
  • More flexible dietary guidelines. Peritoneal dialysis is done more continuously than hemodialysis, resulting in less accumulation of potassium, sodium and fluid.
  • More stable blood chemistry and body hydration. Peritoneal dialysis doesn't require intravenous (IV) access, which can disrupt your circulation and fluid levels.
  • Longer lasting residual kidney function. People who use peritoneal dialysis might retain kidney function slightly longer than people who use hemodialysis.

Your doctor will discuss with you the type of dialysis that's best for you. Factors to consider include:

  • Your kidney function, as measured by blood and urine tests
  • Your overall health
  • Your personal preferences
  • Your home situation

Peritoneal dialysis may be the better option if you:

  • Can't tolerate the rapid changes of fluid balance associated with hemodialysis
  • Want to minimize the disruption of your daily activities, and work or travel more easily
  • Have some residual kidney function

Peritoneal dialysis might not work if you have:

  • Extensive surgical scars in your abdomen
  • A large area of weakened abdominal muscle (hernia)
  • Limited ability to care for yourself, or a lack of caregiving support
  • Inflammatory bowel disease or frequent bouts of diverticulitis
  • Protein malnutrition
  • Critical illness

Most people who start dialysis with peritoneal dialysis will eventually experience a decline in kidney function and will need hemodialysis or kidney transplant.