Dialysis Access (Peritoneal Dialysis Catheter Placement)

What is a peritoneal dialysis catheter?

A peritoneal dialysis catheter is a small, flexible length of tubing with a pig-tail at one end tunneled behind the six-pack abdominal muscle (rectus) and into the lower abdomen to facilitate regular at-home peritoneal dialysis. The washing of the abdomen with these large, sterile bags of electrolytes help to filtrate the body’s blood similar to the kidney.

How long does it take to have placed?

The procedure itself takes 15-25 minutes in most patients. This does not include any preoperative organizing, anesthesia initiated, or recovery time that can add up to about 2-3 hours. Occasionally, additional procedures may need to be performed; your doctor will tell you more about this if needed.

Does it hurt?

Usually, only 2-3 small incisions are required to place the tubing (not including the small tubing exit site). These incision sites are closed with small, dissolving suture beneath the skin and have surgical grade skin glue you can see on the outside that will flake off on their on in 2-3 weeks. Since this is done with a minimally invasive approach, most patients need only Tylenol for a few days.

Can I shower or tub bathe after having it placed?

Two dressings are placed in the operating room, one medium sized and one larger on top of the medium sized dressing. This dressing is left in place for up to a week. As long as the dressing appears well adhered to the skin, showering is allowed started the next day.

When will I learn to manage it? When will the dressing be removed?

Your coordinating nephrologist/nephrology office will be contacted once it is placed and that office will call to coordinate a follow-up appointment in 3-7 days. The dressing will be removed at that time and the care and management of the catheter will be reviewed at that time. The earliest it can be used for dialysis is usually 1 week after placement.

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