What is a Kidney ?
The Kidneys are pear shaped digestive organs located in the upper abdomen which play a key role in bodily functions. Their main functions are blood filtering and getting rid of bodily waste thereby balancing the electrolyte levels in the body. The kidneys are also vital for controlling blood pressure and stimulating the production of red blood cells. The kidneys are located in the abdomen, one on each side of the spine. Kidneys get their blood supply through the renal arteries directly from the aorta and send blood back to the heart via the renal veins to the vena cava.
The transplant itself is a surgical process where the surgeon places the new kidney in your abdomen and attaches it to the artery that supplied blood to one of your kidneys and to the vein carrying blood away from the kidney. The ureter is attached to the kidney, which carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.
When kidneys fail, there are three treatment choices:
Many people feel that a successful kidney transplant provides a better quality of life because it may mean greater freedom, more energy and a less strict diet. In making a decision about whether this is the best treatment for you, you may find it helpful to talk to people who already have a kidney transplant. You also need to speak to your doctor, nurse and family members.
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Types of Kidney Diseases
The process which reduces the functioning of the kidneys is called as ‘kidney disease’. There are two types of kidney diseases- acute kidney disease where damage is sudden revealing the symptoms quickly and the other is chronic kidney disease where the decline in the kidney function is slow and progressive. The different types of kidney diseases are :
Causes of Kidney Diseases
The most common causes of kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, and hardening of the arteries (which damages the blood vessels in the kidney).Some kidney diseases are caused by an inflammation of the kidneys, called nephritis. This may be due to an infection or to an autoimmune reaction where the body’s immune or defence system attacks and damages the kidneys. Other kidney diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease are caused by problems with the shape or size of the kidneys (anatomic disorders), while other kidney diseases interfere with the inner workings of the kidneys (metabolic disorders). Most metabolic kidney disorders are rare, since they need to be inherited from both parents.
Other common causes of kidney failure include certain medications that can be toxic to kidney tissue, and blockages of the system that drains the kidneys (which can occur with prostate problems).
Diagnostic tests for kidney disease are blood tests, urine tests, measuring kidney function, imaging tests and kidney biopsy.
Symptoms and Complications of Kidney Disease
The symptoms of kidney disease depend on the type of disease that a person has.If the disease is caused by a bacterial infection, the person will develop a high fever. Other signs of kidney disease include passing too much or too little urine, or passing blood or abnormal levels of chemicals in the urine.Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus is a kidney disease in which the kidneys cannot remove enough water from the urine to make it concentrated.
Mild to moderate kidney disease often does not have any symptoms.However, in ERSD or uremia, when the toxins accumulate in a person’s blood, symptoms may include:
Kidney disease usually does not cause pain, but in some cases pain may occur. A kidney stone in the ureter (a tube leading from the kidney to the bladder) can cause severe cramping pain that spreads from the lower back into the groin. The pain disappears once the stone has moved through the ureter.
Kidney disease can lead to both acute and chronic kidney failure, both of which can be life-threatening.Acute kidney failure happens suddenly within hours to days, whereas chronic kidney failure happens gradually over a period of months to years. Acute kidney failure can often be reversed if the underlying disease is treated. In both conditions, the kidneys shut down and can no longer filter wastes or excess water out of the blood. As a result, poisons start to build up in the blood and cause various complications that can affect various body systems. Chronic kidney failure eventually reaches an end stage. This condition occurs when the kidney is working at less than 10% of full capacity. At this stage, the person will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to be able to go on living.
Kidney failure can be a gradual process and symptoms may not be seen until the disease is very advanced. Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to remove waste and maintain fluid balance in the body. Without some form of treatment, this would result in death. The two types of treatment for kidney failure are dialysis or transplantation.
There are two different kinds of dialysis: hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. During hemodialysis, tubes connect the patient to a machine that filters the blood. Hemodialysis is usually done three times a week for 3-4 hours each time. It is usually done at a dialysis center, although in some cases families can be trained to do the treatment at home. People on hemodialysis must adhere to a strict diet, restrict their fluid intake and may feel unwell especially after dialysis.
Peritoneal dialysis uses the abdominal cavity membrane called the peritoneal membrane to filter the blood. During this type of dialysis, a tube is placed permanently into the abdomen. During treatment, a fluid called dialysate is infused into the abdominal cavity. Waste and extra fluid move into the dialysate and after a few hours, the fluid is drained out. This is called an exchange. Patients can do 4-5 exchanges per day, or the exchanges may be done at night with the help of a machine that cycles the exchanges while the person is sleeping.
Kidney transplantation is the third option for people with chronic kidney failure. In a kidney transplant, the donated kidney is surgically placed in the lower abdominal area and replaces the function of the natural kidneys. The patient’s own kidneys are usually left in place. The recipient of a kidney transplant must take medicine for the life of the transplanted kidney to prevent rejection. Kidney transplant recipients must also follow strict schedules for lab testing and doctor visits.
Kidney problems can be either acute or chronic.
Acute kidney problems come on quickly but the kidneys often recover after treatment.
Chronic kidney disease is the most common type of kidney disease and occurs when the kidneys are damaged or are not functioning as well for 3 months or longer.
Chronic kidney disease worsens or progresses over time. There are 5 stages of chronic kidney disease, with the most severe being end-stage renal disease (ESRD). With end-stage kidney disease, your kidneys are functioning at less than 15% of what they should be.
Acute kidney problems can be caused by infection, injury, certain medical conditions, and certain medications.
Chronic kidney disease can be caused by:
In many cases, the exact cause of kidney disease can’t be determined.
Some people are at an increased risk of developing kidney disease. The risk factors for kidney disease include:
If you have these risk factors, it doesn’t mean that you will get kidney disease for sure, but you should have your kidney function tested regularly. Even if you don’t have any risk factors for kidney disease, you can still get it. So be sure to have regular check-ups with your doctor.
What is a Kidney Transplant ?
A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure to place a functioning kidney from a donor into a person whose kidneys no longer function properly.
Your kidneys remove excess fluid and waste from your blood. When your kidneys lose their filtering ability, dangerous levels of fluid and waste accumulate in your body — a condition known as kidney failure. A kidney transplant is often the best treatment for kidney failure.
Only one donated kidney is needed to replace two failed kidneys, making living-donor kidney transplantation an option. If a compatible living donor isn’t available for a kidney transplant, your name may be placed on a kidney transplant waiting list to receive a kidney from a deceased donor. The wait could be a few years.
Replacement of diseased or non-working kidneys with a healthy kidney from a living or brain dead donor. One can live long with one kidney also if it is functioning properly. It is for the patient who has end stage renal disease. The Kidney transplant surgeries are of two types :
Why it’s done
A kidney transplant is used to treat kidney failure, a condition in which your kidneys can function at only a fraction of normal capacity. People with end-stage kidney disease need either artificial blood filtering (dialysis) or a kidney transplant to stay alive.
Common causes of end-stage kidney failure include:
Sometimes kidney failure can be managed with diet, medication and treatment for the underlying cause. If despite these steps, your kidneys still can’t filter your blood adequately, you might be a candidate for a kidney transplant.
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