New research is showing peritoneal dialysis as an ideal form of renal replacement therapy before transplant. Peritoneal dialysis removes waste products from a patient’s blood when they have chronic kidney disease or kidney damage.
This prevents the buildup of wastes and toxins in the blood, which cause illness and damage to organs. This can result in conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
This process is different from the more common form of dialysis and allows patients to carry out the procedure at home, on their own. A fluid which cleans the blood flows through a catheter into part of the abdomen. The internal lining of the abdomen, the peritoneum, serves as the filter and removes the waste products from the blood. After a period of time, the filtered waste flows out and can be removed and disposed of safely.
Peritoneal dialysis offers patients much more flexibility. Hemodialysis is the much more common dialysis. It requires patients to come into a facility three or more times a week where they are connected to a machine. The machine filters their blood for several hours, removing all the wastes and toxins which have built up inside of them. Because of the time it takes to carry out this procedure and because the patient has to be immobilized, things such as working full-time and maintaining a career become extremely difficult, if not altogether impossible.
With chronic kidney disease, it may become necessary to eventually replace the kidneys. This is yet another major hurdle for patients. Worldwide, there is a severe shortage of organs and wait times can last for years. Peritoneal dialysis offers a better interim solution for those who are on such waiting lists.
Further research has shown patients are at a lower risk of rapid renal decline with peritoneal dialysis. Additionally, they are at a 16% lower risk of developing a hemorrhagic stroke compared with those undergoing hemodialysis.
Hemorrhagic strokes have long-lasting implications for chronic kidney disease patients, as they can cause neurological damage. This damage makes kidney transplants much more likely to result in the body rejecting the kidney. Mortality among peritoneal dialysis patients is much lower and there is a lower risk of infection. Overall, dialysis, dreaded though it may be, is a life-saving advance in kidney care that has been improving quality of life for years. It’s not ideal, and there is certainly room for improvement in some of its aspects, but peritoneal dialysis can make the burden of living with chronic kidney disease much easier to handle.
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