Kidney Failure (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Kidney failure facts
- What are the kidneys?
- What causes kidney failure?
- What are the symptoms of kidney failure?
- How is kidney failure diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for kidney failure?
- Peritoneal dialysis
- Kidney transplantation
- What is the prognosis for someone with kidney failure?
- Find a local Nephrologist in your town
How is kidney failure diagnosed?
Diagnosis of kidney failure is confirmed by blood tests measuring the buildup of waste products in the blood. BUN, creatinine, and GFR are routine blood tests used to measure the buildup of waste products in the blood. BUN and creatinine become elevated, and the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) decreases. This is the rate with which blood is filtered through the kidneys and can be calculated based upon the creatinine level, age, race, and gender.
Urine tests may be done to measure the amount of protein, detect the presence of abnormal cells, or measure the concentration of electrolytes. Protein in the urine is not normal and can be a clue that damage to the kidneys has occurred. When the urine is examined under a microscope, abnormal aggregations of red and white blood cells called casts can be seen in the urine with kidney disease. Comparing the concentrations of electrolytes in the blood and urine can help decide whether the kidneys are able to appropriately monitor and filter blood.
Other tests are used to diagnose the type of kidney failure. Abdominal ultrasound can assess the size of the kidneys and may identify whether any obstruction exists. Biopsy of the kidney uses a thin needle that is placed through the skin into the kidney itself to get bits of tissue to examine under the microscope.
What is the treatment for kidney failure?
Prevention is always the goal with kidney failure. Chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes are devastating because of the damage that they can do to kidneys and other organs. Lifelong diligence is important in keeping blood sugar and blood pressure within normal limits. Specific treatments are dependent upon the underlying diseases.
Once kidney failure is present, the goal is to prevent further deterioration of renal function. If ignored, the kidneys will progress to complete failure, but if underlying illnesses are addressed and treated aggressively, kidney function can be preserved, though not always improved.
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