The following describes kidney disease, particularly in children. For specific information regarding your child’s health and treatment options, please contact your Hurley physician or medical professional.
Kidney disease is a major health issue in the United States. The National Kidney Foundation estimates that more than 26 million adult Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD). Adults are about 20 times more likely to develop kidney failure than children. For children age 19 and under, 1 to 2 new cases per 100,000 children occur each year.
Chronic kidney disease may be the result of other disorders and illnesses, including diabetes and high blood pressure, and it is strongly associated with higher rates of heart and blood vessel disease, anemia, nerve damage, weak bones and poor nutritional health. In addition to producing hormones that help regulate blood pressure and assisting in the balance of fluids and other substances in the body, your kidneys are responsible for removing waste products from the bloodstream and passing this waste out of the body through urine. As a result, when your kidneys do not function properly, it can have a negative effect on many of your body’s systems.
In children, Chronic Kidney Disease could result from lack of normal development of one or both kidneys, from lung or heart diseases, from reflux of urine to the kidneys and recurrent urinary tract infections, from obstruction to the flow of urine, from inflammation of kidneys causing loss of protein and/or blood through the kidneys, and from long-term use of certain medications. It is important to diagnose these conditions early to prevent quick progression to End Stage Renal Disease, commonly called ESRD.
Once a child develops ESRD, he or she needs to be started on dialysis where blood is circulated out from the patient’s body to a machine that clears the impurities and returns pure blood back to the patient. This process is called Hemodialysis. The other type of dialysis is called Peritoneal Dialysis where the blood is purified using the patient’s peritoneum (the membrane that outlines the abdominal organs). Kidney transplant is also an option for patients with ESRD and for those on dialysis.
Nephrology is the area of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to the kidneys. Physicians who specialize in kidney disease are called nephrologists. At Hurley Medical Center, our nephrologists work closely with primary care and internal medicine physicians, cardiologists, endocrinologists and other medical professionals to help identify kidney disease as early as possible in its progression, and provide a variety of treatment options for patients affected by the disorder and its related conditions.
Chronic Kidney Disease
If chronic kidney disease is detected in its early stages, it is easier to treat and manage. Early detection enables you, your child, and his or her physician to address the underlying causes of poorly functioning kidneys, minimize complications and associated health problems, and achieve better long-term outcomes.
The nephrologists of Hurley Medical Center have developed specific protocols, or methods, to identify those at increased risk for kidney disease and to test for the presence of the condition. Outside of our own offices, we work with the National Kidney Foundation and other community organizations to provide free screenings for CKD to individuals throughout the Flint area who may not have regular access to a physician or health care professional.
When a patient is identified as being at high risk for CKD, additional tests may be performed. These tests may include blood tests, imaging (such as CT scans), and kidney biopsies (in which a tiny piece of the kidney is removed and examined).
When it comes to treating CKD, our most important tool is patient and family education. Understanding the lifestyle issues that may cause or aggravate CKD, and making behavioral changes such as eating a balanced diet and exercising appropriately, can have a significant, positive effect on the progression of the disease. Patients with diabetes are taught to check their blood glucose (blood sugar) levels regularly and may be prescribed insulin to help regulate their condition.
For patients with more severe kidney disease, more aggressive treatments may be necessary, including various forms of dialysis (in which waste is removed from the blood), which can be conducted at home or in a clinic. In the most extreme cases, a kidney transplant [link to page XX, “Organ Transplant”] may be necessary.
Acute Kideny Failure
Acute kidney failure can be caused by injury, infection, poisoning, severe dehydration, and certain medications or illness. It involves temporary or permanent damage that results in the decrease or loss of normal kidney function. The sooner acute kidney failure is detected and treated, the more likely the patient is to have a positive outcome and return to health.
As with chronic kidney disease, a Hurley nephrologist may use a variety of tests to diagnose acute kidney failure, including blood and urine tests; x-rays, ultrasounds and other imaging methods; electrocardiograms (ECG or EKG); and kidney biopsies. Depending on the cause of the kidney failure, treatment options may include hospitalization, intravenous (IV) fluids, medications, dialysis and transplantation.
Acute kidney failure can have widespread effects on your child’s body. Our nephrologists work closely with specialists in many departments, including pediatricians, cardiologists, surgeons and other members of the Hurley medical team to ensure that all aspects of your child’s treatment and care are coordinated effectively.
Kidney stones are small crystals or solids formed in the kidneys by chemicals that are removed from the blood by the kidney as a part of its normal duties. Many of these stones are small enough that they are passed from the body in the urine without being noticed. However, if they become large enough or are positioned in such a way that they block the free flow of urine, severe pain can result.