When most people think about kidney dialysis, hemodialysis quickly comes to mind. However, another option exists that may be more appropriate for you needs and situation. Consider asking your doctor whether continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) is an option.
For some people, hemodialysis can be a tedious experience. To gain and maintain access to the blood stream, a fistula must be created so the blood vessel can accommodate two large needles. One needle removes the blood so it can be cleansed by the machine while the other needle returns the cleaned blood to the fistula. Since hemodialysis must be performed several times each week, having needles inserted into the same area may contribute to scar tissue, making subsequent insertions more difficult. Although CAPD involves surgery to create access to the peritoneal cavity, once the procedure is finished and healed, patients can access their own catheter with relative ease. During the surgical placement, catheters are inserted into the abdomen, so when the cleansing fluid is inserted it can infiltrate the peritoneal cavity. A port is left outside of the skin for patient access.
Although home hemodialysis is an option for many people, CAPD may provide additional discreetness because you are not tethered to a machine. This also provides more freedom to work or engage in other activities while you are completing your treatments. Typically, people with peritoneal dialysis add a predetermined amount of fluid to their catheter and allow it to work for less than an hour before the fluid is emptied. You might choose to go to the store or go for a walk while you are waiting for the fluid to cleanse your blood. As long as you engage in sanitary practices to avoid contaminating your port, you could theoretically do treatments at the office undetected.
CAPD usually requires multiple sessions each day, unlike hemodialysis, which may be performed several times per week. Since each session of CAPD can be performed in less than an hour and can be done during normal activities, this form of dialysis may feel like it consumes less of your time throughout the day. During hemodialysis, each treatment session may last several hours, and this can make scheduling your life or work around treatments difficult. CAPD can also be time saving if you travel. Instead of trying to find a dialysis center for your treatments, you can simply take your treatments on your journey.
In general, the health benefits associated with CAPD and hemodialysis are the same. Opting for CAPD when possible can make kidney dialysis feel less restrictive.