Sometimes kidneys are no longer able lớn filter and clean blood. This can cause unsafe levels of waste products to build up. This is known as kidney (or renal) failure. Unless it is treated, this can cause death.

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What are Kidneys?

The kidneys are 2 bean-shaped organs, each about the form size of a fist. They are found in your baông chồng on either side of the spine. Healthy kidneys clean waste products from the blood by making urine. They also balance the amount of certain elements in your blood (such as sodium, potassium, and calcium), & make hormones that control blood pressure và red blood cells.

What is Kidney Failure?

Kidney (renal) failure is when kidneys don"t work as well as they should. The term "kidney failure" covers a lot of problems. These problems can result in kidney failure:

Your kidney doesn"t get enough blood lớn filterYour kidney is hurt by a disease likehigh blood sugar (diabetes)high blood pressureglomerulonephritis (damage khổng lồ the kidney"s tiny filters)polycystic kidney diseaseYour kidney is blocked by a kidney stone or scar tissue

The symptoms can differ based on how bad the kidney failure is, how quickly it is getting worse, and what is causing it.

There are 2 main types of kidney (renal) failure: acute (sudden) và chronic (over time).

Acute Renal Failure – ARF

ARF occurs when the kidneys suddenly stop filtering waste products from the blood.

The signs of ARF can be:

swelling of the hands, feet và face (edema)internal bleedingconfusionseizurescomaabnormal blood và urine testshigh blood pressureChronic Renal Failure – CRF

CRF builds slowly with very few symptoms in its early stages.

A patient with CRF may not have sầu any symptoms until kidney function declines lớn 20% or less. At that stage, these signs may appear:

abnormal blood và urine testshigh blood pressureweight loss for no reasonlow red blood cell count (anemia)nauseavomitingmetal taste in your mouthloss of appetiteshortness of breathchest painsnumbness and tinglingconfusioncomaseizureseasy bruisingitchingfatigueheadachesmuscle twitches và crampsweak bones that break easilyyellow-brown skin coloritchingswelling of the hands, feet & face (edema)trouble sleeping

ARF is most likely to happen with:

low blood flow (such as after complicated surgery or an accident)swelling of the kidney (such as a reaction to lớn a drug or infection)sudden blockage (such as by a kidney stone)very high blood pressure

With ARF, the kidney often returns lớn normal or near normal after the cause is treated.

CRF is permanent loss of kidney function. The most comtháng causes are:

high blood pressurechronic glomerulonephritis (kidney damage)high blood sugar (diabetes)polycystic kidney diseaseblocked urinary tractkidney infection

Kidney failure is most often found with a blood demo called a "creatinine cấp độ." Creatinine is a molecule made by your muscles. A normal kidney will remove sầu extra creatinine from the blood stream & get rid of it in urine. More creatinine in the blood is a sign that the kidneys aren"t cleaning the blood as well as they should. This test can spot something is wrong before a patient with kidney failure feels sichồng.

To treat ARF, you have to lớn treat the cause (such as blood pressure that is too high or too low, a kidney stone or high blood sugar). Sometimes you need dialysis for a short time.

With CRF, treating the cause (such as high blood pressure and/or high blood sugar) can slow the disease. CRF can lead to end stage kidney disease.

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When kidney function falls below 10% of normal, dialysis or a kidney transplant is most often needed, especially if you have sầu signs of uremia (a buildup of waste in the blood), like nausea và itching.


Dialysis is a way to pump your blood through a machine that filters out the waste & returns the blood to your body. The 2 types of dialysis are hemodialysis & peritoneal dialysis.

Hemodialysis: For hemodialysis, a tube (catheter) is stuông chồng inlớn one of the veins in your neông xã, or an arm or leg. Hemodialysis is most often done 3 times a week for 3 lớn 4 hours at a time.


Peritoneal dialysis: Peritoneal dialysis is done through a tube permanently mix in your belly.

Most adults have dialysis done in an outpatient hemodialysis center. Most children have sầu peritoneal dialysis done at home.

Kidney Transplant

A kidney transplantis when a surgeon puts a healthier kidney from another person inlớn your toàn thân. Kidney transplant is the best way khổng lồ treat many patients with end stage kidney failure.

Kidneys for transplant come from people who have sầu agreed lớn donate their kidneys when they die (deceased donors) or donated by healthy people (living donors). Living donors are most often family members of the patient. There is a shorter wait time khổng lồ surgery for a transplant from a living donor. (This is because there is a waiting danh mục for kidneys from deceased donors & not enough donors.) Also, patients with kidneys donated by living donors live sầu longer (& the kidneys last longer) than those with kidneys from deceased donors or who just stay on dialysis.

With modern medical techniques, the living kidney donor doesn"t need to be a blood family member lớn get a good result.

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About 90,000 patients are on the wait danh sách for deceased donor kidney transplants in the U.S. But only 10,000 deceased donor kidney transplants are done each year due lớn the laông chồng of donated kidneys. Another 6,000 kidney transplants are done each year from living kidney donors.



Urology Health extra Read the lathử nghiệm issue of Urology Health extra, the Urology Care Foundations patient-focused magazine.