Glossary of Terms Associated with Kidney Disease

An inherited condition that results in kidney disease. Alport's syndrome usually develops during early childhood. The condition can lead to kidney failure and to hearing and vision problems. Common symptoms include blood and protein in the urine.
See continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis
Stands for "continuous cycling (cyclic) peritoneal dialysis." Dialysis happens inside the body, using the peritoneal membrane as a filter. A machine performs the peritoneal dialysis solution exchanges in regular cycles. Also generally known as Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD).
Renal means "kidney." The Dialysis center is a place where a team of healthcare professionals help someone with kidney disease. (This definition varies country to country.)
See erythropoietin
See end-stage renal disease.
A rare disease, not specifically of the kidneys. However, light chain can cause excess blood proteins to form and eventually clog the kidneys, leading to kidney failure.
The area of your body that includes your stomach.
In dialysis, the point on the body where a needle or catheter is inserted. (See also arteriovenous fistula, graft, and vascular access.)
Sudden and temporary loss of kidney function. (See also chronic kidney disease.)
A term that refers to how well your dialysis is working. To measure adequacy, tests are carried out to see if enough fluid and waste products are being removed from your blood.
A condition in which a protein-like material builds up in one or more organs. This material cannot be broken down and interferes with the normal function of that organ. People who have been on dialysis for several years may develop amyloidosis because dialysis fails to filter this protein-like material out of the blood.
The condition of having too few red blood cells. Healthy red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. If the blood is low on red blood cells, the body does not get enough oxygen. People with anemia may be tired and pale and may feel their heartbeat change. Anemia is common in people with chronic kidney disease or those on dialysis. (See also erythropoietin.)
Medications used to reduce inflammation.
Means that an organ or tissue did not develop correctly, or is congenitally absent.
Surgical connection of an artery directly to a vein, usually in the forearm, created in patients who will need hemodialysis (see dialysis). The AV fistula causes the vein to grow thicker, allowing the repeated needle insertions required for hemodialysis.
An artery is a blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart to the body.
See atherosclerosis
As people get older, deposits of cholesterol and other fats tend to narrow and block their arteries, the vessels that carry blood from the heart to every part of the body. This gradual process is called atheroma or atherosclerosis.
A disease that occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the body itself.
A genetic disease that is inherited in a random fashion. In recessive disorders such as ARPKD, the baby must inherit a copy of the disease gene from each parent in order to be affected. ARPKD affects one in 10,000 to one in 40,000 babies.
An organ that holds the urine excreted by the kidneys.
Glucose is a kind of sugar. A blood test can show the level of blood glucose. Some people who have diabetes need medication to help control their blood glucose. Others may be controlled with just diet.
The pressure of the blood against the inner walls of the blood vessels. Blood pressure varies with health, age, and stress levels.
A waste product in the blood that comes from the breakdown of food protein. The kidneys filter blood to remove urea. As kidney function decreases, the BUN level increases.
A mineral found in bones, teeth, and body tissues. Calcium strengthens the bones.
A calorie is a unit of heat content or energy.
A medical doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating conditions of the heart.
A tube inserted through the skin into a blood vessel or cavity to draw out body fluid or infuse fluid. In peritoneal dialysis a catheter is used to infuse dialysis solution into the abdominal cavity and drain it out again.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer. The chemotherapy drugs attack and kill the fast-growing cancer cells.
Slow and progressive loss of kidney function over several years, often resulting in permanent kidney failure. People with permanent kidney failure need dialysis or transplantation to replace the work of the kidneys.
A flat, slender bone joining the breast bone to the shoulder blade.
Means "existing at birth."
With CAPD, the blood is always being cleaned. The dialysis solution passes from a plastic bag through the catheter and into the abdomen. The solution stays in the abdomen with the catheter sealed. After several hours, the person using CAPD drains the solution back into a disposable bag. Then the person refills the abdomen with fresh solution through the same catheter, to begin the cleaning process again. This type of PD is non machine assisted.
A form of peritoneal dialysis that uses a machine, or cycler. This machine automatically fills and drains the dialysis solution from the abdomen. A typical CCPD schedule involves three to five exchanges during the night while the person sleeps. The person using CCPD may have one dwell that lasts the entire day or perform additional exchanges during the day.
A waste product from meat protein in the diet and from the muscles of the body. Creatinine is removed from blood by the kidneys; as kidney disease progresses, the level of creatinine in the blood increases.
A test that measures how efficiently the kidneys remove creatinine and other wastes from the blood. Low creatinine clearance indicates impaired kidney function.
Before a transplant, the donor's blood is tested with the recipient's blood to see whether they are compatible.
A machine that performs peritoneal dialysis solution exchanges in regular cycles.
A type of infection that causes inflammation of the bladder.
Small sacs that form in the body that contain gas, fluids, or partly solid material. Cysts are not normal; the body does not need them to function.
A condition characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) resulting from the body's inability to use glucose efficiently. Insulin normally helps the body's cells use glucose. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin; in type 2 diabetes, the body is resistant to the effects of available insulin.
Dialysis solution.
The process of cleaning wastes from the blood artificially. This job is normally done by the kidneys. If the kidneys fail, the blood must be cleaned artificially with special equipment. The two major forms of dialysis are hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
The dialysis center is the place where a team of healthcare professionals treat someone with kidney disease who needs dialysis.
If you are on dialysis, you may become closest to your dialysis nurse. He or she specializes in dialysis treatment. Your dialysis nurse can teach you about the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of dialysis. Dialysis nurses also help train people to do dialysis themselves.
A cleansing liquid used in the two major forms of dialysis, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Dialysis solution contains dextrose (a sugar) and other chemicals similar to those in the body. Dextrose draws wastes and extra fluid from the body into the dialysis solution.
Nurses and other healthcare professionals who manage dialysis procedures and/or instruct patients how to manage their own dialysis.
A part of the hemodialysis machine. The dialyzer has two sections separated by a membrane. One section holds dialysis solution. The other holds the patient's blood.
Someone trained in nutrition and diet planning.
A person who offers blood, tissue, or an organ for transplantation. In kidney transplantation, the donor may be someone who has just died or someone who is still alive, usually a relative.
In peritoneal dialysis the amount of time a bag of dialysis solution remains in the patient's abdominal cavity during an exchange.
Means "having abnormal tissue development."
Swelling caused by too much fluid in the body.
Total and permanent kidney failure. When the kidneys fail, the body retains fluid and harmful wastes build up. A person with ESRD needs treatment to replace the work of the failed kidneys.
A medical doctor who specializes in treating disorders of the endocrine glands, including the pancreas.
A hormone made by the kidneys that stimulates cells in the bone marrow to produce new red blood cells. Synthetic versions are available (epoetin alpha). Lack of the hormone may lead to anemia.
In peritoneal dialysis the draining of used dialysis solution from the abdomen, followed by refilling with a fresh bag of solution.
See arteriovenous fistula.
The amount of fluid a dialysis patient is allowed to drink each day.
A type of glomerulonephritis that results from scarring in parts of the glomerulus (the filter of the kidney).
Plural of glomerulus.
Inflammation of the glomeruli. Most often, it is caused by an autoimmune disease, but it can also result from infection.
A tiny set of looping blood vessels that filter blood in the kidney. Plural: glomeruli.
In hemodialysis a vascular access surgically created using a synthetic tube to connect an artery to a vein. In transplantation a graft is the transplanted organ or tissue.
Growth hormone is made in the body and helps children grow. It's activity can be less than normal in someone with kidney disease. It can also be given as a medication.
A measure that tells what portion of a blood sample consists of red blood cells. Low hematocrit suggests anemia or massive blood loss.
The use of a machine to clean wastes from the blood after the kidneys have failed. The blood travels through tubes to a dialyzer, which removes wastes and extra fluid. The cleaned blood then flows through another set of tubes back into the body.
The substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body.
A rare condition affecting mostly children under the age of 10. It is characterized by destruction of red blood cells, damage to the lining of blood vessel walls, and, in severe cases, kidney failure. Most cases of HUS occur after an infection in the digestive system caused by bacteria-contaminated food like meat, dairy products, and juice. The first stages of HUS frequently present with gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea.
A natural chemical produced in one part of the body and released into the blood to trigger or regulate particular functions of the body. Among the hormones the kidney releases are erythropoietin and an active form of vitamin D that helps regulate calcium for bones.
High blood pressure, which can be caused either by too much fluid in the blood vessels or by narrowing of the blood vessels.
The ideal weight for a person after hemodialysis treatment. The weight at which a person's blood pressure is normal and no swelling exists because all excess fluid has been removed.
The body's system for protecting itself from viruses and bacteria or any "foreign" substances.
A drug given to suppress the natural responses of the body's immune system. Immunosuppressants are given to transplant patients to prevent organ rejection and to patients with autoimmune diseases like lupus.
When someone cannot take part in sexual intercourse because he cannot have an erection.
Interstitial refers to the spaces within a tissue or organ. Interstitial nephritis is a disorder in which there is inflammation within the kidney, not directly affecting the glomerulus.
One of two bean-shaped organs that filter wastes from the blood. The kidneys are located near the middle of the back. They create urine, which is delivered to the bladder through tubes called ureters.
Loss of kidney function. (See also end-stage renal disease, acute renal failure, and chronic kidney disease.)
Minerals, like calcium, sometimes form stones in the kidneys.
A kidney transplant is an operation performed by a transplant surgeon in which a healthy kidney from another person is placed into your body.
Medication that helps a patient lose their sense of pain. A local anesthetic is applied to a specific area of the body, and the patient does not lose consciousness.
A chronic disease of unknown cause. It can affect skin, connective tissue under the skin, blood vessels, and other organs, and may eventually damage the kidneys.
A thin sheet or layer of tissue that lines a cavity or separates two parts of the body. A membrane can act as a filter, allowing some particles to pass from one part of the body to another while keeping others where they are. The artificial membrane in a dialyzer filters waste products from the blood.
A form of glomerulonephritis. Signs of this condition are swelling of the glomerulus, which is located inside the kidney, and blood in the urine. It is a rare disorder, affecting 3 out of 10,000 people. It can affect both adults and children.
An inorganic substance occurring naturally in the earth and is neither vegetable nor animal.
Surgical removal of a kidney.
A condition in which the kidney tubules have difficulty reabsorbing fluids. The condition can result in extreme thirst and excessive urination.
A doctor who is trained in internal medicine and specializes in kidney disease.
The small unit in the kidney, made up of small blood vessels (glomeruli) and tubules which produce urine.
Nephrotic syndrome is a group of signs and symptoms including protein in the urine, low blood protein, and swelling. Nephrotic syndrome is caused by disorders that result in some type of damage to the kidney glomerulus, leading to abnormal loss of protein in the urine.
Food or fluid that provide the body with needed chemicals.
Nutrition is the study of human food and liquid requirements for normal function.
A blockage, which may be caused by kidney stones or a birth defect of the kidney or ureter. The blockage is any condition where urine cannot flow out of the kidney. The blockage makes it difficult for the kidneys to remove wastes and extra fluids.
A part made of specialized tissues that performs a specific function in the body. For example, your heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys are all organs.
A colorless, odorless, tasteless chemical element. Oxygen is essential for life processes.
Kidney disease that affects infants and children, and teenagers.
A nephrologist is a medical doctor who specializes in disorders of the kidneys. A pediatric nephrologist has extensive training in general pediatrics and in helping children with kidney disease and kidney failure. He or she knows all about dialysis and transplant, and will supervise your treatment.
Blood and urine tests reveal how well the kidneys are working, so the physician can determine the percent of kidney function.
The space inside the lower abdomen but outside the internal organs.
Cleaning the blood by using the lining of the abdominal cavity as a filter. A cleansing liquid, called dialysis solution, is drained from a bag into the abdomen. Fluids and wastes flow through the lining of the cavity and remain "trapped" in the dialysis solution. The solution is then drained from the abdomen, removing the extra fluids and wastes from the body. There are two main types of peritoneal dialysis: CAPD and CCPD.
The lining of the abdomen.
Inflammation of the peritoneal membrane, usually caused by infection.
Phosphorus is an element contained in many foods and is normally filtered by the kidney. When kidneys begin to fail, phosphorus remains in the body and can damage the bones.
A type of obstructive uropathy (urine is blocked from flowing out of the kidney.)
A mineral that helps muscles and nerves work the right way. Healthy kidneys get rid of any extra potassium that your body doesn't need from food you have eaten. Damaged kidneys may not be able to get rid of enough potassium.
Proteins are what keep your body tissue healthy and replace old or damaged tissue. Each day, protein must be included in the diet for you to stay healthy. There are two kinds of protein found in foods: animal proteins and plant proteins.
Inflammation of the kidney pelvis and the kidney linings, usually caused by bacterial infection.
A man-made form of growth hormone that is used to treat people who are growing slowly because of a disease. Therapy with r-HuGH is usually given by subcutaneous (under the skin) injection.
Help carry oxygen through the body.
When the body does not accept a kidney transplanted from another body.
Of the kidneys. A renal disease is a disease of the kidneys. Renal failure means the kidneys have stopped working properly.
"Renal" means "kidney." An artery is a blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart. So the renal artery carries blood away from the heart to the kidney.
A nutrition expert who has further specialized in the effect of diet on the health of people with kidney disease.
"Renal" means "kidney." A vein is a blood vessel that carries blood toward the heart. So the renal vein carries blood "cleaned" by the kidney, back to the heart.
A hormone made by the kidneys that helps regulate blood pressure.
Reno means kidney, vascular means blood vessel. Blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys.
Renal means "kidney." This term describes the kidney function left after you have started dialysis treatment.
Your social worker can help with understanding how to live with a chronic illness, insurance matters, learning about support groups, and dealing with challenges at home, with friends, or in school.
A mineral found in the body and in many foods.



GFR (ml./min/1.73m2)



Kidney damage with normal or ↑ GFR


Diagnosis and treatment,

Treatment of co morbid conditions,

Slowing progression,

CVD risk reduction


Kidney damage with mild ↓ GFR


Estimating progression


Moderate ↓ GFR


Evaluating and treating complications


Severe ↓ GFR


Preparation for kidney replacement therapy


Kidney failure

<15 (or dialysis)

Replacement (if uremia present)

A sudden, brain injury caused either by blood flow to part of the brain being obstructed (blocked) or by bleeding into the brain.
Means "beneath the clavicle." The clavicle is the collarbone, a bone in the shoulder. The subclavian vein is the large vein behind the collarbone which is sometimes used for hemodialysis.
Something that is toxic is poisonous. Some of the wastes produced by the body are toxic. They must be removed from the body by the kidneys or by dialysis, or they will poison the body.
Replacement of a diseased organ with a healthy one. A kidney transplant may come from a living donor, usually a relative, or from someone who has just died.
A surgeon who specializes in transplanting organs, such as a kidney transplant surgeon.
A waste product found in the blood and caused by the normal breakdown of protein. Urea is normally removed from the blood by the kidneys and then excreted in the urine. Urea accumulates with kidney failure.
The condition where a person gets sick from wastes building up in the blood. Someone who has uremia may experience nausea, weight loss, high blood pressure, and/or trouble sleeping.
A thick-walled tube that moves the urine from the kidney to the bladder.
The tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
A test of a urine sample that can reveal many problems of the urinary system and other body systems. The sample may be observed for color, cloudiness, and concentration; signs of drug use; chemical composition, including sugar; the presence of protein, blood cells, or germs; or other signs of disease.
The system that takes wastes from the blood and carries them out of the body in the form of urine. The urinary tract includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
"Urinary" means "related to urine". Urine is the excess fluid and waste removed from the body by the kidneys. Urine passes along the urinary tract.
To release urine from the bladder to the outside.
Liquid waste product filtered from the blood by the kidneys, stored in the bladder, and expelled from the body through the urethra by the act of voiding or urinating.
A general term to describe the area on the body where blood is drawn for circulation through a hemodialysis circuit. A vascular access may be an arteriovenous fistula, a graft, or a catheter.
A vein is a blood vessel that carries blood toward the heart.
In hemodialysis, tubing that carries blood from the dialyzer back to the body.

May 1, 2006