Transfer to Peritoneal Dialysis after Chronic Hemodialysis Treatment

Transfer to Peritoneal Dialysis after Chronic Hemodialysis Treatment

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a progressive condition characterized by a gradual loss of kidney function over time. When the kidneys fail to adequately remove waste products and excess fluid from the body, patients often require renal replacement therapy, such as dialysis, to sustain life. Hemodialysis has traditionally been the most common form of dialysis for patients with CKD. However, for various reasons, some individuals may transition to peritoneal dialysis as an alternative renal replacement therapy. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the process of transferring from chronic hemodialysis treatment to peritoneal dialysis, including the reasons for transition, the preparation involved, the benefits and challenges, and the support available during this transition.

Reasons for Transition

Lifestyle Considerations

One of the primary reasons patients may choose to transfer to peritoneal dialysis is the desire for greater flexibility and autonomy in managing their treatment. Unlike hemodialysis, which typically requires patients to visit a dialysis center several times a week for several hours each session, peritoneal dialysis can often be performed at home, allowing for more independence and the ability to schedule treatments around daily activities.

Vascular Access Issues

Some patients may experience complications with their vascular access for hemodialysis, such as vascular stenosis, infection, or thrombosis. Switching to peritoneal dialysis eliminates the need for vascular access and reduces the risk of complications associated with central venous catheters or arteriovenous fistulas.

Preservation of Residual Renal Function

Peritoneal dialysis may offer advantages in preserving residual renal function compared to hemodialysis. By continuously removing waste products and excess fluid from the body, peritoneal dialysis may exert less hemodynamic stress on the kidneys and help maintain kidney function for a longer period.

Preparation for Transition

Clinical Assessment

Before transitioning to peritoneal dialysis, patients undergo a comprehensive clinical assessment by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including nephrologists, nurses, and dialysis educators. This assessment typically includes:

  • Evaluation of residual renal function and suitability for peritoneal dialysis.
  • Assessment of the patient’s home environment and ability to perform peritoneal dialysis independently.
  • Education and training on the principles of peritoneal dialysis, including catheter care, infection prevention, and troubleshooting common issues.

Catheter Placement

A peritoneal dialysis catheter must be surgically placed before initiating peritoneal dialysis treatment. The catheter is typically inserted into the abdominal cavity through a small incision and exits through the abdominal wall. The catheter serves as the conduit for instilling dialysis solution into the peritoneal cavity and draining the used solution.

Benefits of Transition

Enhanced Quality of Life

Transitioning to peritoneal dialysis may offer several advantages in terms of quality of life. Patients have the flexibility to perform dialysis treatments at home on their schedule, reducing the need for frequent visits to a dialysis center. This can lead to greater independence, improved psychological well-being, and a better overall quality of life.

Preservation of Vascular Access

Peritoneal dialysis eliminates the need for vascular access, reducing the risk of complications such as infection, thrombosis, and vascular stenosis associated with central venous catheters or arteriovenous fistulas. This may be particularly beneficial for patients with limited vascular access options or a history of vascular access-related complications.

Potential Preservation of Residual Renal Function

Some studies suggest that peritoneal dialysis may preserve residual renal function better than hemodialysis. By providing continuous, gentle ultrafiltration, peritoneal dialysis may help maintain urine output and preserve kidney function over time.

Challenges and Considerations

Risk of Peritonitis

One of the primary complications associated with peritoneal dialysis is peritonitis, an infection of the peritoneal membrane. Patients must adhere strictly to aseptic technique and infection prevention measures to minimize the risk of peritonitis.

Technical and Psychological Challenges

Performing peritoneal dialysis at home requires patients to master various technical skills, including proper catheter care, solution exchange techniques, and trouble-shooting common problems. Patients may also experience psychological challenges, such as anxiety, depression, or feelings of isolation, related to the demands of home dialysis.

Support and Resources

Ongoing Education and Training

Patients transitioning to peritoneal dialysis receive comprehensive education and training to ensure they are proficient in performing home dialysis safely and effectively. This includes hands-on training, educational materials, and access to support resources.

Multidisciplinary Support Team

Patients have access to a multidisciplinary support team, including nephrologists, dialysis nurses, dietitians, social workers, and psychologists, who provide ongoing support and guidance throughout the transition process. This team collaborates closely with patients to address their individual needs and concerns.


The decision to transfer from chronic hemodialysis treatment to peritoneal dialysis is a significant step in the management of chronic kidney disease. While this transition offers several potential benefits, including enhanced quality of life and preservation of vascular access, it also presents challenges that must be carefully considered and addressed. With comprehensive education, training, and support, many patients can successfully transition to peritoneal dialysis and experience improved outcomes and quality of life.