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Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis


Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) is done to remove wastes, chemicals, and extra fluid from your body. During CAPD, a liquid called dialysate is put into your abdomen through a catheter (thin tube). A procedure will be done to place this catheter. The dialysate pulls wastes, chemicals, and extra fluid from your blood through the peritoneum. The peritoneum is a thin lining on the inside of your abdomen. The peritoneum works like a filter as the wastes are pulled through it. The process of filling and emptying your abdomen with dialysate is called an exchange.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Antibiotics are given to help prevent a bacterial infection during and after your procedure.
  • Anesthesia is medicine to make you comfortable during the surgery. Healthcare providers will work with you to decide which anesthesia is best for you.

During your procedure:

Your healthcare provider will make an incision below or beside your belly button, or just below your ribs. He will cut through your muscle and tissue to make a hole where the catheter will be placed. A catheter will be pushed into your abdomen through this hole. The end of the catheter may be placed just under your skin for 3 to 5 weeks. Your healthcare provider will put some liquid through the catheter to check that it works well. He may also put blood thinner medicine in it to help prevent your catheter from getting clogged. The catheter will be held in place with stitches, and the area covered with bandages.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room to rest. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When healthcare providers see that you are okay, you may be taken to a hospital room, or be sent home. The bandages covering your abdomen will keep the area clean and dry. Healthcare providers will check the area and change your bandages. Your healthcare provider will teach you and your family how to do CAPD. You will learn how to set up and use your dialysis supplies and equipment. You will also learn what to do if you have problems during a dialysis exchange.


  • You may bleed more than expected. Your wound may not heal well and your catheter may not work as it should. You may need to have it removed or replaced. During CAPD, you may feel pain in your back and stomach. You may lose your appetite, lose weight, and feel weak. You may have high sugar and cholesterol levels in your blood. You may get an infection on your skin or in your abdomen.
  • If you do not have the procedure to place the catheter, you will not be able to do CAPD exchanges. Without these exchanges, symptoms from kidney problems will get worse. Wastes, chemicals, and extra water will build up in your body. You will feel very tired and weak. You may be confused, and lose your memory. Your arms, legs, and face will get swollen. Your blood pressure may continue to increase, and you may have trouble breathing. You may lose consciousness or go into a coma . These health problems can be life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (Inpatient Care)

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