How Long Can I be on Peritoneal Dialysis While Waiting for a Kidney Transplant?

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About Peritoneal Dialysis

Those wondering “How long can I be on peritoneal dialysis?” need to be aware of the many factors that affect the answer to that question.

Peritoneal dialysis is often used to help patients with kidney failure while they await a kidney transplant. Kidney failure can be caused by a number of factors, including polycystic kidney disease, diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure).

For a patient to be considered for peritoneal dialysis, they must be able to care for themselves or have adequate care-giving at home. Overall health and kidney function are other factors are considered.

Patients may not be suitable for this procedure if they have excessive abdominal scarring from surgeries or have a condition such as diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel disease.


What can a patient on peritoneal dialysis expect? The National Kidney and Urological Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) explains, “Residual kidney function typically falls, although slowly, over months or even years of PD. This means that more often than not, the number of exchanges prescribed, or the volume of exchanges, needs to increase as residual kidney function falls.”

Though this may sound disheartening, patients can be on peritoneal dialysis for a number of years while awaiting a kidney transplant. According to MD Guidelines, “In general, those undergoing dialysis therapy have an average life expectancy of 4 years although many survive as long as 25 years on dialysis therapy.”

There is no simple answer to the question, “How long can I be on peritoneal dialysis” because there are so many outside factors to consider. Patients can be on it for years while they await their kidney transplant. It depends on the effectiveness of the treatment, the patient’s health and when a organs are available so that a transplant can be performed.

Life While on Peritoneal Dialysis

One of the most common problems associated with peritoneal dialysis is infection. To minimize the risk of infection, patients need to make a few adjustments to their daily life. These adjustments include using only clean, well-lit, dry environments for performing the exchanges (i.e. do not do it in the bathroom), wearing a surgical mask when performing the exchanges, keeping the site cleaned with an antiseptic and washing hands every time the catheter is handled. Supplies need to be stored in a cool, dry, clean space.

Signs of infection include fever, redness around catheter, pain around catheter, used dialysis solution showing cloudiness or an unusual coloration. If any of these signs appear, the treating physician should be contacted immediately.


Peritoneal dialysis. Mayo Clinic Staff. December 12, 2008.

Renal Dialysis. MD Guidelines.

Treatment Methods for Kidney Failure: Peritoneal Dialysis. National Kidney and Urological Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC).