The kidney is an important organ. It measures about 4 inches by 2 inches by 1 inch in size; it’s located in the lumbar region; and it performs many functions to keep a person healthy. It filters waste products and toxins from the blood; it removes excess water from the body; and it helps regulate chemicals the body needs to function — potassium, magnesium, phosphate and sodium, to name a few. The product of the kidney is stored in the bladder as urine.

When a person loses kidney function, the blood is not cleaned of these chemicals, and the build up of toxins in the patient causes the body to shut down. This condition is referred to as renal failure. If the kidney can’t remove the excess water, the limbs and body will swell, causing pain. A simple scale is often the first indicator of renal failure: The patient’s weight increases. The patient’s life now depends on being able to replace, by artificial means, the kidney’s function to clean the patient’s blood.

There are two common methods of cleaning blood.

Hemodialysis is when the blood is removed from the body, pumped through a filter and back into the body. Peritoneal dialysis is when dialysates are infused into the abdominal cavity, where the peritoneum membranes act as the dialysis membrane. The solution is left in the cavity for a period of time and then drained. The patient is generally in bed during the procedure.

A version of peritoneal dialysis is called CAPD or Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis. Here the patient is mobile and goes about his or her daily routine, stopping only to drain and refill the dialysate.

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