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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.


The week before your procedure:

  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your healthcare provider. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your provider if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • A peritoneal equilibration test (PET) may be done to check that your peritoneum can filter wastes, extra fluid, sugar, and salt. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about this and other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
  • Healthcare providers may teach you and your family things you need to know about kidney failure. Your healthcare provider will teach you and your family how to do CAPD exchanges. You will learn how to prepare and use the supplies and equipment. You will also learn what to do if you have problems during the exchanges.

The night before your procedure:

  • You will take medicine to empty your intestines. This is called bowel preparation.
  • Ask healthcare providers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your procedure:

  • Ask your healthcare provider before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Healthcare providers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell healthcare providers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

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. In some cases, 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 is held in place with stitches, and the area is 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.


  • You cannot make it to your procedure.
  • You have a fever.
  • You get a cold or the flu.
  • You are quickly gaining weight.
  • You have swelling in your arms, legs, or face.
  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You are confused and unable to remember things.
  • You lose consciousness.
  • You suddenly have chest pain and trouble breathing.


  • 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.

Care Agreement

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.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

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 (Precare)

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