Renal - Chronic Kidney Disease

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs, about the size of an adult fist, located in the back, above the waist and below the lower ribs. They continuously filter the bloodstream, playing a vital role in controlling the body’s level of water and various salts and chemicals and in clearing waste products.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a long standing, progressive deterioration of renal function. Patients will have evidence of kidney disease and/or reduced renal function regardless of the specific diagnosis or cause.

What are the signs and symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease?

Symptoms of CKD include:

  • Gastrointestinal and nutritional abnormalities – bad breath, ulcerations, nausea, vomiting and blood loss
  • Dermatological abnormalities – pallor, signs of bleeding, itchiness (pruritus) and abrasions caused by scratching and skin discolouration

The signs of CKD may include:

  • Proteinuria (protein in the urine)
  • Anaemia
  • Abnormal coagulation (blood clotting)
  • Neuromuscular abnormalities

Who is likely to be at risk of Chronic Kidney Disease?

The major risk factors for CKD include: diabetes, high blood pressure, increasing age, being male, race, smoking, obesity.

According to the Renal Registry, in 2008 there were 24,639 UK patients undergoing dialysis across all renal centres.

How is Chronic Kidney Disease diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based on laboratory testing of renal function, sometimes followed by a biopsy.

What are the treatments for Chronic Kidney Disease?

In the most severe stage of CKD (known as end-stage kidney disease or stage 5) regular dialysis or a kidney transplant is almost always required.

Progression of CKD can often be slowed by controlling modifiable risk factors and by appropriate medical treatment and management.