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Kidney disease

Malalties renals a Vall d'Hebron

Kidney disease encompasses a wide range of conditions that compromise the normal functioning of the kidneys. Their main purpose is to purify the blood of different composites, regulate their composition of mineral salts and acidity and contribute to the normal formation and maintenance of bones. They also support the creation of red blood cells and regulate arterial pressure. Kidney disease is characterised by a change in the functions described: higher levels of urea in the blood, excessive potassium or phosphorus, excessive blood acidity, bone pain and anaemia.



Kidney disease is measured by the stage of renal insufficiency, which increases from 1 to 5; the most advanced stage at which the kidneys have ceased to function. During stages 1 to 4 there are different medical treatments that can slow or compensate for renal insufficiency. At stage 5, patients have to undertake extrarenal purification techniques such as haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. In this case, the possibility of a kidney transplant will always be considered, which would allow a normal life free from dialysis but would require taking immunosuppressant medication to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ.



Renal insufficiency is usually detected with a simple blood test. Symptoms tend to be tiredness and generally feeling unwell caused by a build-up of urea, anaemia or both factors together. The patient may also have a headache if their arterial pressure is high.


Who is affected by the condition?

All age groups. In childhood, there is often a genetic cause. In adults, it may be due to other illness such as diabetes, immune diseases or infectious diseases. It may also manifest due to the late appearance of genetic diseases in adults.



Renal insufficiency is diagnosed with a simple blood test. Establishing the cause of the renal insufficiency is more complicated. Often, a kidney biopsy and genetic testing will be needed.


Typical test

Typical tests include blood tests, ultrasound, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, kidney biopsy and genetic testing.


Typical treatment

Initial treatment consists of substituting or compensating for the aforementioned alterations. During later stages, haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis may be used, and in the case of terminal renal insufficiency, a kidney transplant may be carried out; from a deceased or a living donor. 



Drinking a reasonable amount of water a day contributes to good kidney function. 



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