How to Prepare a Dialysis Bag

February 22, 2021
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Receiving treatment for a condition can be stressful — especially when it happens to a loved one. You have to learn all about their condition as well as the different ways to treat it. Whether it’s discovering how to dress wounds properly or clean tubes thoroughly, taking care of your loved one requires learning an entirely new skillset. Such is the case when a dialysis bag is involved. Why is a dialysis bag needed, and how can you prepare it to ensure the best treatment for your loved one?

What is a dialysis bag?

A dialysis bag is a semipermeable membrane that holds fluids typically removed by the kidneys. Your kidneys are responsible for removing excess fluids, minerals, and waste from the body. But, when kidney failure occurs, this waste and other liquids can build up in the body — causing high blood pressure and a drop in red blood cells. A dialysis bag can be used as a kidney substitute during kidney failure or after a kidney transplant to allow for a productive lifestyle.

Types of Dialysis

There are two types of dialysis for kidney failure — peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis. Peritoneal dialysis is the only dialysis that uses a dialysis bag. During treatment, fluid is placed into the patient’s abdominal cavity using a plastic tube — called a peritoneal dialysis catheter. It removes excess waste products and fluid from the body.

Instead of a dialysis bag, hemodialysis uses a filter and requires in-person treatments at a clinic three times a week for three to five hours each visit. During these appointments, a dialysis machine is used to filter and remove excess fluids and waste.

Preparing a Dialysis Bag in 3 Steps

If your loved one uses a dialysis bag, they’ll need to change the fluids in the bag four to five times a day. Each process can take up to 30 minutes to perform, but more time should be expected initially until the process becomes second nature. For treatment, the fluids required for the dialysis bag will depend on the weight of the patient. Your loved one’s doctor should provide instructions for the amount of fluid necessary.

Step 1. Prepare the Dialysis Tubing

The dialysis tubing is what connects the dialysis bag to the body. This tubing needs to be cleaned each time the fluid is replaced to ensure the tubing is clear and will transport fluids, minerals, and waste properly. To prepare the dialysis tubing, you should:

  1. Cut the tubing to the desired length as outlined in your doctor’s instructions (if new tubing is needed)
  2. Immerse the tubing into 2% sodium bicarbonate and 1 mm EDTA
  3. Boil the tubing for 10 minutes
  4. Rinse the tubing thoroughly with ddH2O (double-distilled water)
  5. Boil the tubing thoroughly in ddH2O for 10 minutes
  6. Decant the ddH2O
  7. Add 50% ethanol and 1 mm EDTA, and submerge the tubing completely
  8. Store at 4 to 5 degrees Celsius (while fully submerged)
  9. Rinse tubing before use

Step 2. Prepare the Peritoneal Catheter Site

Thoroughly clean the site where the tube enters the body. Use a warm washcloth and a small amount of soap to gently clean the area. Completely dry the area with a clean washcloth. Keep in mind to be gentle and take note of any fluids that may come from the site. If the site looks irritated and there are dark or milky liquids, this may be a sign of infection, and you should call their doctor immediately.

Step 3. Replace the Dialysis Bag

Disconnect the old dialysis bag and replace it with a new solution bag. This solution helps to filter fluids, minerals, and other wastes. The solution drains into the peritoneal cavity, and the bag is rolled up and placed in the patient’s underwear. This may feel weird at first but will become a more familiar feeling as your loved one becomes accustomed to the process.

What to Know About Treatment

Peritoneal dialysis comes with a risk of infection. That’s why you should be diligent when cleaning the catheter entry site and know what signs will indicate an infection. As an alternative to the typical peritoneal dialysis treatment, a machine called a cycler may be used at night. During this nightly process, five to six bags of dialysis are loaded into the machine, and the cycler will automatically change the fluid while your loved one sleeps. You should talk to their doctor before proceeding with this treatment.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.