How long does peritoneal dialysis take?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
A session of peritoneal dialysis can take several hours or can last overnight, depending on the way it's done. Peritoneal dialysis is an alternative to the kind of dialysis most people are familiar with -- hemodialysis, in which blood is run from a patient through a dialysis machine that removes wastes and liquid. Either kind of dialysis keeps the blood clean when the kidneys fail.

Peritoneal dialysis uses a solution that contains dextrose (or another sugar), salt and minerals dissolved in water. A catheter (soft tube) fills the abdomen with the solution. The solution mixes with wastes, salt and liquid, and all are removed when the solution drains out. This filling and removal process is called an exchange. It can be done as continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) or continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD).

CAPD is done without machines. Four or five times a day, the peritoneal dialysis solution is put into your abdomen through the catheter and then drained out four or five hours later. Each drain and fill requires about 30 to 40 minutes. During CAPD, you can go about your usual activities at work, school or home.

CCPD is done with a machine called a cycler. You connect the machine to the catheter, and it fills and drains your abdomen in 90-minute cycles over the course of the night as you sleep. There is no need to perform an exchange during the day if you do this type of peritoneal dialysis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.