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The Kidney Failure Glossary 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-POY-uh-tin): a hormone made by the kidneys to help form red blood cells. Lack of this hormone may lead to anemia.

ESRD (EE-ESS-AR-DEE): see end-stage renal disease.

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.



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fistula (FISS-tyoo-luh): see arteriovenous fistula.



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GFR (JEE-EF-AR): see glomerular filtration rate.

glomerular filtration rate (GFR) (gloh-MAIR-yoo-lar) (filTRAY-shuhn) (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-yoo-loh-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-MAIR-yoo-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.

Illustration of a nephron.

glomerulus (gloh-MAIR-yoo-Glomerulus luhss): a tiny set of looping blood vessels in the nephron where blood is filtered in the kidney.

graft: 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-TOO-ree-uh): blood in the urine, which can be a sign of a kidney stone, glomerulonephritis, or other kidney problem.

hemodialysis (HEE-moh-dy-AL-ih-siss): see dialysis.

hormone (HOR-mohn): a natural chemical produced in one part of the body and released into the blood to trigger or regulate particular body functions. The kidney releases three hormones: erythropoietin, renin, and calcitriol.

hyperkalemia (HY-pur-kuh-LEE-mee-uh): abnormally large amounts of potassium in the blood, often as a result of poor kidney function or inadequate dialysis.

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.

Amount of blood in vessel. Diameter of blood vessel. Blood pressure.



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immune system (ih-MYOON) (SISS-tuhm): the body’s system for protecting itself from viruses and bacteria or any foreign substances.

immunosuppressant (IM-yoo-noh-soo-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, such as lupus.

interstitial nephritis (IN-tur-STISH-uhl) (neh-FRY-tiss): inflammation of the kidney cells that are not part of the fluid-collecting units. Interstitial nephritis is a condition that can lead to acute renal failure 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 failure (KID-nee) (FAYL-yoor): loss of kidney function. see end-stage renal disease, acute renal failure, 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.

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: March 23, 2012


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