Don't Hate on Peritoneal Dialysis

Kidney patients should embrace peritoneal dialysis

(RxWiki News) Patients with end-stage renal disease who choose to undergo peritoneal dialysis have no greater risk of catheter infection than those who go through hemodialysis.

There are multiple types of renal therapies for patients of end-stage renal disease. Although peritoneal dialysis is less common than hemodialysis in the United States, peritoneal dialysis is less expensive, easier on the body, and offers the patient more mobility.

According to senior author Dr. Ramesh Saxena, associate professor of internal medicine at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, peritoneal dialysis provides patients with a better quality of life as well as a cheaper option. In fact, says Dr. Saxena, patients survive better on peritoneal dialysis.

Peritoneal dialysis works through a catheter placed in the abdominal cavity. Waste fluids are removed from a patient's body through the catheter, mimicking the way a kidney naturally functions.

Kidney specialists in the United States do not receive enough training in peritoneal dialysis, says Dr. Saxena. Even though peritoneal dialysis is a common treatment elsewhere in the world--hemodialysis remains the primary choice in the United States. This is likely because many U.S. doctors believe that peritoneal dialysis is hard to manage and poses high risks of infection. However, says Dr. Saxena, there is no formal evidence to support these claims.

In a study of over 300 patients who had their first peritoneal dialysis catheter placed between 2001 and 2009, Dr. Saxena found that 60 percent of the study's participants experienced no infections, while 21 percent experienced one episode and approximately 19 percent had more than one episode of peritoneal infection.

Furthermore, they found that three-year catheter survival rates were more than 91 percent.

If the research shows that peritoneal dialysis isn't as dangerous as popular belief claims, then doctors and patients should consider it as a viable option to treat end-stage renal disease, especially because it seems to provide patients with a better quality of life than does hemodialysis. 

End-stage renal disease is primarily caused by diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and urologic disease. At the end of 2007, more than 527,000 U.S. residents were being treated for end-stage renal disease.

The study appears online in the Journal of Vascular Access.

Review Date: 
March 3, 2011