Treating the spectrum of kidney diseases

Our nephrology program offers consultation on and management of a wide range of kidney diseases in children, including:

  • Cystic kidney disease—Kidney conditions that involve cysts; polycystic kidney disease is the most common
  • Congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT)—When defects are discovered in one or two kidneys before birth or soon after birth. Different defects often coexist in an individual child
  • Hematuria—Blood in the urine
  • Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)—A disease caused by clots in the blood vessels in the kidneys
  • Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP)—A disease that causes inflammation of small blood vessels in the body, including the kidneys
  • Hypertension—High blood pressure
  • Kidney stones—Mineral deposits inside the kidneys
  • Lupus—A chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs
  • Nephrotic syndrome—A disorder that causes the body to release too much protein in the urine
  • Obstructive uropathy (hydronephrosis)—When the flow of urine is blocked, causing it to back up into the kidneys
  • Proteinuria—A condition in which urine contains too much protein
  • Renal failure—When the kidneys aren’t properly filtering waste from the blood
  • Urinary tract infection—An infection in any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra
  • Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR)—When urine flows backward from the bladder up toward the kidneys

Once a diagnosis is made, appropriate treatment can be started. The goal of treatment is to keep the child’s kidneys as healthy as possible. Treatment is usually successful, but in some cases kidney damage is so severe that the child needs special support until the kidneys regain their function.

Such support may be offered at Children’s or through collaboration with the University of Minnesota and can include:

  • Dialysis
  • Continuous venovenous hemofiltration (CVVH)
  • Hemodialysis
  • Peritoneal dialysis
  • Kidney transplantation

In some cases, a test called a kidney biopsy is needed to diagnose a kidney disease. A kidney biopsy involves taking a very tiny piece of tissue from one kidney while the child is sleeping.

Because the kidneys perform jobs that affect several other parts of the body, the board-certified pediatric nephrologists at Children’s work closely with experts in other specialties—including pediatric urology, transplant surgery, psychology, nutrition and social work—to provide comprehensive care for patients.


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