Getting a Peritoneal Dialysis Catheter

A peritoneal dialysis catheter is the only type of access for peritoneal dialysis (PD). A PD catheter is a flexible, hollow tube about the size of a straw that's surgically placed in your lower abdomen. A small piece of tubing is left outside of the body that can be covered when not in use.
Illustrtion of a peritoneal dialysis catheter. The catheter is placed in the peritoneal cavity, in the lower abdomen. Parts of the catheter outside of the body include a protective cap and a clamp, which is part of the transfer set.
Checking for the best dialysis access type.

Planning for your PD catheter is key

Here's what to know when preparing for your access:

  • You'll need minor surgery for PD catheter placement.
  • A PD catheter is usually placed by a surgeon in sterile conditions to minimize infection. The procedure is often done under local anesthesia.
  • Healing time ranges from a few days to 2 weeks, depending on the urgency to start treatment.
  • Once the catheter area has healed, a nurse will teach you how to use your catheter and care for it properly.

tips for avoiding a dialysis access infection

How to care for your access site

Your access is your lifeline, so keep your peritoneal dialysis catheter clean and well maintained to avoid infections. Here are 3 ways to keep your access site healthy.

  1. Practice good hygiene—keep your hands and exit site clean and dry. Perform daily access site care according to the instructions provided by your care team.
  2. Protect your catheter—keep your catheter close to your body and avoid clothing that's too tight or that may snag. When not in use, your catheter should be capped and your transfer set should be clamped.
  3. Inspect your access site daily—look for any signs of redness, drainage, tenderness or swelling that could indicate infection. If you notice any changes to your access site around your catheter, contact your nurse right away. It's important to receive immediate treatment if you have an infection.

Buried PD catheter option

If you know you're going to do PD—but you're at least 6 weeks from starting—your doctor may suggest getting a "buried" catheter. With this procedure, the PD catheter is surgically placed, but the catheter end is left under the skin until you're ready to start treatment. The advantage is that there's no downtime when you're ready to begin PD treatment—the doctor exposes the catheter end and you're ready to go. A peritoneal catheter may also be an option even if you need to start treatment in an urgent situation.

Talk to your doctor about planning for your PD catheter.


There are big benefits to home dialysis—including greater flexibility and fewer restrictions, so you can keep the lifestyle you love. Find out if starting or switching to home dialysis treatment is right for you.
Learn More


You'll have 24/7 access to on-call home PD nurses by phone. That means you get the benefits of home and the comfort of knowing help is there if you need it.
Keep your catheter clean and use proper techniques for handwashing or sterilizing to prevent peritonitis.
Learn more