Renal failure refers to temporary or permanent damage to the kidneys that results in loss of normal kidney function. There are two different types of renal failure—acute and chronic. Acute renal failure has an abrupt onset and is potentially reversible. Chronic renal failure persisits over at least three months and can lead to progressive loss of kidney function. The causes, symptoms, treatments, and outcomes of acute and chronic kidney failure are variable and different.
Conditions that may lead to acute or chronic renal failure may include, but are not limited to, the following:
|Acute renal failure (Acute Kidney Injury)||Chronic renal failure (Chronic Kidney Disease)|
|Decreased blood flow to the kidneys for a period of time. This may occur from dehydration, blood loss, surgery, or shock.||Abnormal development of the kidneys during pregnancy.|
|An obstruction or blockage along the urinary tract.||A prolonged urinary tract obstruction or blockage.|
|Hemolytic uremic syndrome. Usually caused by an E. coli infection, kidney failure develops as a result of obstruction to the small functional structures and vessels inside the kidney.||Glomerulonephritis (see left)|
|Ingestion of certain medications that may cause damage to the kidneys.||Nephrotic syndrome. A condition that has several different causes. Nephrotic syndrome is characterized by protein in the urine, low protein in the blood, high cholesterol levels, and tissue swelling.|
|Glomerulonephritis. A type of kidney disease in which the kidney filters become inflamed and impair the kidney's ability to filter urine.||Polycystic kidney disease. A genetic disorder characterized by the growth of numerous cysts filled with fluid in the kidneys.|
|Any condition that may impair the flow of oxygen and blood to the kidneys, such as cardiac arrest.||Recurrent kidney infections and urinary reflux.|
|Certain genetic disorders|
The symptoms for acute and chronic renal failure may be different. The following are the most common symptoms of acute and chronic renal failure. However, each child may experience symptoms differently.
Acute symptoms may include:
(Symptoms of acute renal failure depend largely on the underlying cause.)
Chronic symptoms may include:
The symptoms of acute and chronic renal failure may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's doctor for a diagnosis.
In addition to a physical examination and complete medical history, your child's doctor may order the following diagnostic tests:
Specific treatment for renal failure will be determined by your child's doctor based on:
Treatment of acute renal failure depends on the underlying cause. Treatment may include:
In some cases, children may develop severe electrolyte disturbances and toxic levels of certain waste products normally eliminated by the kidneys. Children may also develop fluid overload. Dialysis may be indicated in these cases.
Treatment of chronic renal failure depends on the degree of kidney function that remains. Treatment may include:
Most children with renal failure are followed by a pediatrician and a nephrologist (a doctor who specializes in disorders or diseases of the kidneys).