Kidney Failure

  • Medical Author:
    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.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    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.

What are the kidneys?

The kidneys play key roles in body function, not only by filtering the blood and getting rid of waste products, but also by balancing the electrolyte levels in the body, controlling blood pressure, and stimulating the production of red blood cells.

The kidneys are located in the abdomen toward the back, normally one on each side of the spine. They 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 term "renal" is derived from the Latin name for kidney.)

The kidneys have the ability to monitor the amount of body fluid, the concentrations of electrolytes like sodium and potassium, and the acid-base balance of the body. They filter waste products of body metabolism, like urea from protein metabolism and uric acid from DNA breakdown. Two waste products in the blood usually are measured; 1) blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and 2) creatinine (Cr). Continue Reading

Reviewed on 1/23/2015
References
REFERENCE:

Longo DL, et al. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th edition. McGraw Hill Professional. 2011.

Medscape. Renal Failure, Acute.

NIH. Amyloidosis and Kidney Disease. IMAGES:

1. iStock

2. Veer

3. MedicineNet

4. Bigstock

5. iStock

6. iStock

7. iStock

8. iStock

9. iStock

10. Veer

11. Bigstock

12. iStock

13. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

14. iStock

Kidney Disease Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Kidney Failure - Symptoms

    The symptoms of kidney failure can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?

    Post View 42 Comments
  • Kidney Failure - Treatment

    What kinds of treatment did you or a relative receive for kidney failure?

    Post View 20 Comments
  • Kidney Failure - Diet

    What changes have you made to your diet since you were diagnosed with kidney failure?

    Post View 3 Comments
  • Kidney Failure - Diagnosis

    Describe the events and tests that led to a diagnosis of kidney failure.

    Post View 5 Comments
  • Kidney Failure - Dialysis

    What is it like to receive dialysis? Please share your experience.

    Post View 3 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors