Benefits of Peritoneal Dialysis (PD)
Peritoneal dialysis (PD) may be the right treatment for you if you work, study or travel regularly and if it suits your lifestyle and medical and physical condition. Doing peritoneal dialysis (PD) at home increases the flexibility and independence of your life on dialysis. It can save you frequent trips to the hospital or clinic and gives you more freedom to do the activities you love.
Is PD right for you?
You might have already heard about peritoneal dialysis (PD) as an option to treat your kidney disease. When it comes to a more flexible treatment to meet your lifestyle needs, then PD may be the choice for you.
You are not alone!
In a time when face-to-face visits and healthcare services may be a bit more challenging, being able to learn and make decisions about your chronic kidney disease (CKD) treatment between visits is important to keep you empowered.
Telehealth visits have become more popular with many health insurance companies making it easier and more affordable to connect with a clinician during these times. Beyond virtual visits, when medical issues arise, your healthcare team can tell you more about other ways to access remote care to help you stay on top of your overall health.
In the meantime, through pdempowers.com you can get to know your options with access to the online resources and be prepared for when you are able to speak with your doctor.
Interview with a nephrology expert
Dr. Mary Gellens is a nephrologist and senior medical director at Baxter Healthcare Corporation. In her role, Dr. Gellens creates educational programming and collaborates with external investigators on research in the areas of peritoneal dialysis, hemodialysis, continuous renal replacement therapy, nutrition and hospital products for the U.S., Canada and Latin America.
Prior to joining Baxter, Dr. Gellens served as director of inpatient and outpatient dialysis at St. Louis University, where she managed the care of acute and chronic renal patients, provided education to medical fellows, residents and students, and participated in clinical research, particularly around end-stage renal disease.
Dr. Gellens received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Smith College, her M.D. from the University of Florida and completed her nephrology fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Tell us a little about yourself and your history in the kidney community
I have been a nephrologist for over 30 years. First I was in an academic setting, taking care of patients, teaching and doing research. Then I moved to industry where I felt I could have an impact on design and implementation of new, sorely needed products for patients with kidney disease.
- What will change about dialysis patient care because of COVID‑19?
As in the community at large, wearing masks and keeping a safe distance from others will also be expected in health care settings. If you are a dialysis patient, you will probably see a lot more use of telehealth medicine to help keep the number of patients in clinics at a minimum.
- What should I be prepared for?
You should be prepared for a different experience at dialysis clinics. There will be much more scrutiny around illness. Patients will likely be checked for fever and other symptoms each time they enter health care centers to ensure they are not contagious. Hospital visits for care will have similar procedures in place.
- How can I best manage my health if I don’t go to the clinic?
Telehealth is an excellent way to manage minor health problems. Not missing any dialysis treatments is also key as that contributes to all kinds of poor health outcomes.
- When is it a good time to go back to my clinic?
You should keep in close contact with your health care provider to determine that. The number of COVID patients and risk of infection is widely different in various geographies. Your health care provider is the best resource for that information.
- Can I delay dialysis until after the pandemic is over?
It is not a good idea to do that. If you delay dialysis too long you could become extremely ill and require emergency treatment. Starting dialysis on an emergency basis is much more risky than starting in a planned fashion.
- If I need to have a catheter placed, what should I consider regarding the surgery?
Whether you choose hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis you will need a procedure to have a catheter placed. For HD it will be in a blood vessel and for PD it will be in your abdomen. The most important thing to do when going to the health center to have a catheter placed is to follow the instructions of your nephrologist/surgeon. Different centers will have different policies and procedures. Some will require COVID testing before a procedure, others will just check to see that you feel okay and do not have a fever. There will also be rules around visitors. The best advice is to check with your doctor and follow the recommendations.
- How can I prepare for a conversation about my treatment choices?
There are many sources for information about dialysis choices. Under pdempowers.com "Knowledge Center" you will find multiple resources that may be helpful in learning more about kidney disease and your treatment options at home in between your appointments. The National Kidney Foundation website is also an excellent resource. Again, talk to your healthcare team. They have been through this many times and will be an excellent source to answer all your questions.