Kidney Pain (cont.)

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When should I see my doctor about kidney pain?

Individuals should not postpone seeing a doctor about kidney pain or flank pain. Although flank pain is often seen in underlying problems with the kidney, there are many other diseases that can mimic kidney pain and the physician can help with an accurate diagnosis of underlying problems that result in kidney or flank pain. Any acute onset of intense kidney or flank pain should be evaluated immediately.

Warning signs that kidney disease is present and may result in kidney pain or flank pain are the following:

  • Blood or protein in the urine
  • More frequent urination, especially at night and/or difficult or painful urination
  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling of the hands and feet and/or puffiness around the eyes
  • Testing that shows an abnormal creatinine, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) or glomerular filtration rate (GFR) less than 60

In addition, if an individual has diabetes or any of the congenital problems that lead to kidney dysfunction, the individual should be routinely checked for the onset of kidney dysfunction or kidney failure by their physician.

What are common tests are available to diagnose kidney diseases?

The doctor usually will do a history and physical examination. Initial tests usually consist of a complete blood count (CBC), kidney function (creatinine and BUN), and urine test and when appropriate, a pregnancy test.

If kidney stones are suspected, a CT exam (renal protocol or non-contrast spiral CT) or renal ultrasound is done; an abdominal X-ray (KUB) may be ordered, but has been replaced in general by ultrasound and CT. As patients with kidney stones often need repeat X-ray studies or have repeat episodes of kidney stones, ultrasound with its lack of radiation is a good study to consider. Abdominal/pelvic CT's with contrast or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered to further define or differentiate underlying kidney (renal) and non-renal causes of flank pain.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/29/2014

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