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The Kidney Diseases Dictionary: E - K


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edema (eh-DEE-muh):

swelling caused by too much fluid in the body.

electrolytes (ee-LEK-troh-lyts):

chemicals in the body fluids and dialysis solution, including sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride. The kidneys control the amount of electrolytes in the body. When the kidneys fail, electrolytes get out of balance, causing potentially serious health problems. Dialysis can restore the balance.

end-stage renal disease (ESRD) (END-STAYJ)(REE-nuhl)(dih-ZEEZ):

total and permanent kidney failure. When the kidneys fail, the body retains fluid. Harmful wastes build up. A person with ESRD needs treatment to replace the work of the failed kidneys.

erythropoietin (uh-RITH-roh-POYuh-tin):

a hormone made by the kidneys to help form red blood cells. Lack of this hormone may lead to anemia.


see end-stage renal disease.


see extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy.

exchange (eks-CHAYNJ):

in peritoneal dialysis, the draining of used dialysis solution from the abdomen, followed by refilling with a fresh bag of solution. See peritoneal dialysis under dialysis.

extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) (EKStruh-kor-POH-ree-uhl) (shok)(wayv) (LITH-oh-TRIP-see):

a nonsurgical procedure using shock waves to break up kidney stones.


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feces (FEE-seez):

the solid waste that passes through the rectum as a bowel movement. Feces are undigested food, bacteria, mucus, and dead cells.

fistula (FISS-tyoo-luh):

see arteriovenous fistula.


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see glomerular filtration rate.

glomerular filtration rate (GFR) (gloh-MAIR-yoo-lar) (fil-TRAYshuhn) (rayt):

the rate at which the kidneys filter wastes and extra fluid from the blood, measured in milliliters per minute.

glomeruli (gloh-MAIR-yoo-ly):

plural of glomerulus.

glomerulonephritis (gloh-MAIR-yooloh-neh-FRY-tiss):

inflammation of the glomeruli. Most often, it is caused by an autoimmune disease, but it can also result from infection.

glomerulosclerosis (gloh-MAIRyoo-loh-skluh-ROH-suhss) :

scarring of the glomeruli. It may result from diabetes (diabetic glomerulosclerosis) or from deposits in parts of the glomeruli (focal segmental glomerulosclerosis). The most common signs of glomerulosclerosis are proteinuria and chronic kidney disease.

glomerulus (gloh-MAIR-yoo-luhss):

a tiny set of looping blood vessels in the nephron where blood is filtered in the kidney.

drawing of a tiny set of looping blood vessels in the nephron where blood is filtered in the kidney

Goodpasture syndrome (GUDpass-tyur) (SIN-drohm):

a rare disease that usually includes bleeding from the lungs, coughing up blood, and inflammation of the kidneys that can lead to kidney failure. This condition is an autoimmune disease.


in a transplant, the transplanted organ or tissue. See also arteriovenous graft.


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hematocrit (hee-MAT-oh-krit):

a measure that tells what portion of a blood sample consists of red blood cells. Low hematocrit suggests anemia or massive blood loss.

hematuria (HEE-muh-TYOOree-uh):

blood in the urine, which can be a sign of a kidney stone, glomerulonephritis, or other kidney problem.

hemodialysis (HEE-moh-dy-AL-ihsiss):

see dialysis.

hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) (HEE-moh-LIT-ik) (yoo-REEmik) (SIN-drohm):

a disease that affects the blood and blood vessels. It destroys red blood cells, cells that cause the blood to clot, and the lining of blood vessels. HUS is often caused by the Escherichia coli bacterium in contaminated food. People with HUS may develop acute kidney injury.

Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP)(HEH-nok) (SHURN-lyn) (PUR-poo-ruh):

an autoimmune disease affecting mostly children between ages 2 and 11 that causes the blood vessels in the skin to swell. Rash and bruising are the main symptoms. Kidney damage results in a small percentage of children with HSP.

hormone (HOR-mohn):

a natural chemical produced in an organ or gland and released into the blood to trigger or regulate particular body functions. The kidney releases three hormones: erythropoietin, renin, and calcitriol.


see Henoch-Schönlein purpura.


see hemolytic uremic syndrome.

hydronephrosis (HY-droh-nehFROH-siss):

swelling of the kidney and renal pelvis, usually because something is blocking urine from flowing into or out of the bladder.

hydroureter (HY-droh-YOORuh-tur):

swelling of the ureter, usually because something is blocking urine from flowing into or out of the bladder.

Drawing of the Hydronephrosis and hydroureter
Hydronephrosis and hydroureter

hypercalciuria (HY-pur-KAL-see-YOO-ree-uh):

abnormally large amounts of calcium in the urine.

hyperkalemia (HY-pur-kuh-LEEmee-uh):

abnormally large amounts of potassium in the blood, often as a result of poor kidney function or inadequate dialysis.

hyperoxaluria (HY-pur-OK-suh-LYOO-ree-uh):

unusually large amounts of oxalate in the urine, leading to kidney stones.

hypertension (HY-pur-TEN-shuhn):

a condition present when blood flows through the blood vessels with a force greater than normal. Also called high blood pressure. Hypertension can strain the heart, damage blood vessels, and increase the risk of kidney problems, heart attack, stroke, and death.

image depicting blood traveling through three blood vessels of different diameters, showing the amount blood pressure within eachd


hypokalemia (HY-poh-kuh-LEEmee-uh):

abnormally small amounts of potassium in the blood, often as the result of a kidney defect, including some forms of renal tubular acidosis.


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IgA nephropathy (EYE-JEE-AY)(neh-FROP-uh-thee)::

a kidney disorder caused by deposits of the protein immunoglobulin A (IgA) inside the glomeruli (filters) within the kidney. The IgA protein damages the glomeruli, leading to blood and protein in the urine, swelling in the hands and feet, and sometimes kidney failure.

immune system (ih-MYOON)(SISS-tuhm):

the body's system for protecting itself from viruses and bacteria or any foreign substances.

immunosuppressant (IM-yoo-nohsoo-PRESS-uhnt):

a drug given to stop the natural responses of the body’s immune system. Immunosuppressants are given to prevent organ rejection in people who have received a transplant and to people with certain autoimmune diseases, like lupus.

inflammation (IN-fluh-MAY-shuhn):

swelling and redness that results from injury to tissue.

insulin (IN-suh-lin):

a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. The beta cells of the pancreas make insulin. When the body cannot make enough insulin, insulin must be taken by injection or other means.

interstitial nephritis (IN-tur-STISH-uhl) (neh-FRY-tiss):

inflammation of the kidney cells that are not part of the fluidcollecting units. Interstitial nephritis is a condition that can lead to acute kidney injury or chronic kidney disease.

intravenous pyelogram (IN-truh-VEE-nuhss) (PY-el-oh-GRAM):

an x ray of the urinary tract. A dye is injected into a vein in the patient’s arm to make the kidneys, ureters, and bladder visible on the x ray and to show any blockage in the urinary tract.


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kidney (KID-nee):

one of the two bean-shaped organs that filter wastes from the blood. The kidneys are located near the middle of the back, one on each side of the spine. They create urine, which is delivered to the bladder through tubes called ureters.

kidney disease (KID-nee) (dih-ZEEZ):

see acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease.

kidney dysplasia (KID-nee) (diss-PLAY-zee-uh):

a condition in which the internal structures of one or both of a baby’s kidneys do not develop normally while the baby is growing in the womb. Fluid-filled sacs called cysts replace normal kidney tissue. Kidney dysplasia usually happens in only one kidney.

kidney failure (KID-nee) (FAYLyoor):

loss of kidney function. (See end-stage renal disease, acute kidney injury, and chronic kidney disease.)

kidney function (KID-nee)(FUHNK-shuhn):

the amount of work done by the kidneys. A decline in kidney function means the kidneys are not filtering wastes and fluid from the blood as well as they should. See glomerular filtration rate.

kidney stone: (KID-nee) (stohn):

a stone that develops from crystals that form in urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney, in the renal pelvis, or in the ureters. Kidney stones include calcium oxalate stones, cystine stones, struvite stones, and uric acid stones.

Kt/V (KAY-TEE-OH-vur-VEE):

a measurement of dialysis dose. The measurement takes into account the efficiency of the creatinine clearance, the treatment time, and the total volume of urea in the body. Kt/V is also used in determining the adequacy of peritoneal dialysis. See urea reduction ratio. See peritoneal dialysis under dialysis.

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Page last updated September 9, 2011


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