Peritoneal dialysis in the era of COVID-19: experience of a Tunisian center


The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the health landscape by hampering the management of patients with chronic diseases. Providing optimal healthcare has become a critical issue, especially for patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) receiving in-center dialysis. Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) has the advantage of being a home-based therapy. Several papers about COVID-19 in the chronic kidney disease (CKD) population have been published, but few studies focused on the PD population, with limited case series. In this paper, we share our strategy for managing PD patients during the pandemic and describe the characteristics of 24 episodes of COVID-19 that occurred in our PD patients. Also, we report the impact of the pandemic on different outcomes and discuss the challenges of renal replacement therapy (RRT) in the time of COVID-19 and the advantages of PD. During the period from December 2019 to September 2021, 127 patients received PD in our center. Among them, we recorded 24 episodes of COVID-19 that occurred in 20 patients, corresponding to an incidence of 8.4 per 1000 patient-months. None of the 20 patients with COVID-19 were vaccinated and there was a significant male gender predominance in the COVID-19 group compared to the non-COVID-19 group. The prevalence of diabetic nephropathy and primary glomerulonephritis were also significantly higher in the COVID-19 group. The revealing symptoms were asthenia, dry cough, and the deterioration of general conditions in 100%, 75%, and 63% of the patients, respectively. A biological inflammatory syndrome was found in 30% of the patients. Chest computed tomography (CT) scan, performed in 5 patients, showed features of COVID pneumonia with an average extent of damage of 55%. The rate of patients starting PD during the study period was comparable to that before the pandemic. Furthermore, we did not find a significant difference between the infected and the non-infected groups regarding the incidence of peritonitis, PD technique failure, and mortality (6.1 [0–1.46] vs 3.9 [0.15–0.64] deaths per 1000 patient-months. COVID-19 does not seem to have influenced the outcomes of our patients treated with PD even before the launch of mass immunization in our country. Thus, PD can be a great option for RRT in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic since many issues could be managed remotely to avoid regular hospital visits and contribute to maintaining social distancing, which is the cornerstone of breaking the chain of transmission of the novel virus.