How peritoneal dialysis (PD) works

The PD exchange procedure

In this section, you will learn how PD works.

PD is carried out through a catheter placed in the peritoneum, which is located in your abdomen. This is where you exchange old solution for new solution. The 3 main steps in fluid exchange for PD are drain, fill, and dwell.

How PD Works

An exchange has 3 steps

STEP 1: Drain

The used and saturated solution inside the abdomen is drained via the catheter. This solution contains waste and excess fluid.

STEP 2: Fill

After the abdomen is drained of the old solution, your peritoneal cavity is refilled with new dialysis solution through the same catheter located in the abdomen.

STEP 3: Dwell

When the new solution has been emptied into your abdomen, the tubing and bags are removed. You wear only a short tubing set covered with a sterile cap and can continue your normal activities. During this dwell period of time, the dialysis solution stays in the peritoneal cavity. This is when and where the dialysis occurs. The solution in your peritoneal cavity is collecting the waste and excess fluid from your body.

Carefully washing and drying your hands to protect your catheter and exit site from germs prior to touching (or handling) your catheter is essential. Germs can cause infections and are found on your skin and clothing. Antiseptic solutions can kill germs where regular soaps cannot.

Two types of peritoneal dialysis (PD)

Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD)

CAPD is a manual form of PD. CAPD means that you “manually exchange” old solution for new solution multiple times every day. Dialysis happens continuously.


The catheter

The catheter is a small, flexible tube that is placed through the wall of your abdomen, into the peritoneal cavity. It is a permanent access for PD that is essential. The PD catheter lets the PD solution run into and out of your peritoneal cavity.


Your renal care team will show you how to take care of your PD catheter.

Automated peritoneal dialysis (APD)

APD is a form of PD done with the assistance of a machine. The machine is mostly referred to as a “cycler.”


The cycler does the exchange. This is usually done at night, while you sleep, allowing you to carry on your daily activities without interruption. Your nurse will advise you if you need an extra exchange during the day.


Key points to remember:

• Your nurse will walk you through the steps needed to do PD at home.

• Feel free to take notes and ask your nurse questions throughout your training.

• It is important for you to be comfortable with this information.

• Be actively involved in the learning process.

• As you continue your training, you will gain confidence to perform your therapy at home.

• Both CAPD and APD can be planned to fit into your family, work, and personal lifestyle.

• Know that you are an important part of your renal team.

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Peritoneal dialysis (PD) at home

PD is a therapy option that uses the lining of your own abdomen to remove waste products from your blood. Here you can learn more about doing PD at home.


Benefits of PD

PD at home increases flexibility, freedom, and independence while on dialysis. It can save you frequent trips to the hospital or clinic.

Text Quiz: Is PD right for me?


Take this short quiz to help you determine if PD is right for you.

Learn more about PD and Baxter

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Welcome kit

A digital kit specifically designed to help answer your questions and provide helpful resources to empower you throughout your PD journey.

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My Baxter

This is your personal PD management tool. Manage your PD supplies, delivery schedules, and much more.

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Mobile Ordering

Mobile ordering your PD supplies is easy with Baxter’s online tools. It allows freedom and flexibility in managing your dialysis supplies.

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Knowledge Resources for your CKD/ESKD journey

Whether you’re looking into dialysis, starting PD, or already on PD, we have resources for you.

Other pages you may be interested in!

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Treatment options