Common Peritoneal Dialysis Myths Revealed

If a patient is considering peritoneal dialysis (PD), chances are good that he or she has heard some of the myths surrounding this treatment modality. However, most of the common myths are just that - myths. Believing them may keep patients from enjoying the active, independent lifestyle you desire, a lifestyle that is generally possible with at-home PD. This article is intended to dispel common myths and reveal the truth about peritoneal dialysis.

Myth 1: Peritoneal dialysis is not viable for overweight, tall, large, or muscular patients.

FALSE! Tall, large, or muscular patients with large body masses can do as well on PD as on in-center hemodialysis, if not better. Studies show that when comparing end stage renal disease (ESRD) patients with large body masses on PD with those on in-center hemodialysis (HD), survival and primary infection rates are equal. PD is also an option for overweight patients. In fact, patients who are large typically need more dialysis. Therefore, PD may be a good option because of the frequency of the dialysis schedule. It's important to note, though, that overweight patients on PD should be monitored carefully because of an increased risk of catheter infections and peritonitis. Also, overweight patients who have diabetes may need to consider their age before starting peritoneal dialysis (PD), since this treatment modality tends to be more beneficial for younger people with diabetes on dialysis.

Myth 2: Peritoneal dialysis is very time consuming.

FALSE! In comparison to in-center hemodialysis, any one of the four at-home treatment modalities - short daily home hemodialysis, traditional home hemodialysis (HHD), automated peritoneal dialysis, and continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis - provide for more free time. Typically, in-center hemodialysis takes nearly 12 hours a week, not to mention the time spent traveling to and from the patient's nearest center. Peritoneal dialysis (PD) actually increases the amount of free time patients have to spend with family and friends, on the job, or simply doing the things they love most. Additionally, automated peritoneal dialysis (APD) patients who dialyze while sleeping spend an average of only three hours a week setting up and cleaning their equipment.

Myth 3: Peritoneal dialysis is not an option for blind patients.

FALSE! Although peritoneal dialysis (PD) can be more challenging for visually impaired patients, there is no reason why patients with this comorbidity can't consider peritoneal dialysis. These patients can simply choose a care partner to assist with set-up, treatments, and monitoring. Training and safety programs are available to educate patients and their care partners on how to perform safe and effective PD treatments.

Myth 4: Peritoneal dialysis is not an option for elderly patients.

FALSE! In order to be a candidate for PD, dialysis patients need to be motivated, possess basic manual dexterity, and have an intact peritoneal membrane. There are no age limits or requirements to perform peritoneal dialysis. These days, people are living longer and staying active well into old age, and many elderly people with ESRD are receiving the care they need on PD, while maintaining the freedom they value. Care partners can also make it easier for the elderly patient to do peritoneal dialysis (PD), and this may also help them feel more confident and comfortable dialyzing at home.

Myth 5: Peritoneal dialysis requires too much independence.

FALSE! Care partners can provide the right level of support for PD patients who don't want to feel alone in treating end stage renal disease (ESRD). Care partners also give less ambulatory patients the option of home treatment modalities. Usually a family member or close friend, a care partner provides vital support and helps the patient to perform safe and effective dialysis treatment. Because of this, ESRD patients shouldn’t rule out peritoneal dialysis (PD). Instead, they should talk with their doctors, healthcare teams and family members or friends about any worries they may have and about choosing a care partner.

Myth 6: Peritoneal dialysis won’t work for patients with only one arm.

FALSE! Of course, PD would be easier with two hands. Nevertheless, plenty of end stage renal disease (ESRD) patients can attest to the fact that physical challenges do not limit their ability to perform home dialysis. PD patients with only one arm can explore the different devices available for use with dialysis machines to assist with treatments. There are several options available, depending on what brand of dialysis equipment a patient chooses.

Conclusion

Being misinformed about home dialysis treatment is possible given the confusing amount of information available to dialysis patients. Patients should research their treatment options thoroughly and get information from a source they trust. This will help patients make the right decisions about their healthcare options. Peritoneal dialysis is a favorable option for many people on dialysis, not just one type of patient. If patients are interested in receiving the kidney care they need while maintaining the freedom they value, they should discuss peritoneal dialysis (PD) with their doctors today.

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