Peritoneal Dialysis and Lifespan
A person’s lifespan on peritoneal dialysis can be affected by a number of factors. It should be noted that peritoneal dialysis does not cure kidney failure or kidney disease. The primary purpose is to aid kidney function while the patient awaits kidney transplant. To that end, peritoneal dialysis only compensates for about 10 percent of normal kidney function.
Peritoneal dialysis is considered to be a great option for many patients because, in comparison to hemodialysis, it costs less, has less restrictions on diet and fluids, avoids needle sticks, there is less risk of anemia and it allows more independence and self-care for the patient.
Over time while on peritoneal dialysis, it is common for remaining kidney function to slowly decline. This results in the patient commonly needing alterations to their treatment including the number of prescribed exchanges and the volume of them.
A common risk with peritoneal dialysis, infection can also be prevented by putting certain practices in place. All efforts must be made to keep the catheter and catheter site clean while also keeping the supplies clean and protected from the elements. Supplies should be kept in a cool, dry place (i.e. not the bathroom) and exchanges should be performed in a well-lit, dry, clean place (i.e. not the bathroom). Hands should be washed regularly, especially when handling the catheter and a surgical mask should be worn when performing the exchanges.
Though infection can occur around the catheter, it can also occur in the abdominal wall lining. This is known as peritonitis and it can have very serious consequences if left untreated.
If any signs of infection (redness, swelling, discoloration or cloudiness in used solution, fever) appear, it is imperative that the doctor be contacted right away.
Kidney Transplant Timeline
The time a patient has to wait for a kidney transplant is also a factor. The longer a patient must be on peritoneal dialysis, the higher the risk for problems. Though patients can be safely on peritoneal dialysis for years, it does not cure the problem and the kidneys will usually continue to decline in function.
This timeline is not only about when a kidney becomes available, but also about the patient’s health status. Transplantation can be denied or put off if certain factors are present in a transplant recipient.
In regards to hard numbers, MD Guidelines states in regards to lifespan on peritoneal dialysis that while the average lifespan for patients on dialysis therapy averages approximately four years, some patients survive as long as twenty-five while awaiting kidney transplant.
Peritoneal Dialysis. WebMD. Monica Rhodes. Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD. Last Updated September 17, 2009. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/peritoneal-dialysis-4391
Treatment Methods for Kidney Failure: Peritoneal Dialysis. National Kidney and Urological Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC). https://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/peritoneal/
Renal Dialysis. MD Guidelines. https://www.mdguidelines.com/renal-dialysis