Renal failure

Synonyms: Kidney failure, Renal insufficiency

Medical Specialties: Family practice, Internal medicine, Other


Clinical Definition

Renal failure is either a level of glomerular filtration rate of less than 15 mL/min/1.73m2, or a need to initiate kidney replacement therapy, either dialysis or transplantation, for complications of decreased GFR.  GRF levels used in defining renal failure are viewed as arbitrary in potential need of modification based on kidney replacement therapy advances.


In Our Own Words

Renal failure, or kidney failure, occurs when kidney disease progresses and the kidneys are no longer able to provide waste removal functions for the body. Renal failure is the final stage of chronic kidney disease.  A measure of kidney function, called the glomerular filtration rate or GFR, is used as a guideline in assessing the amount of kidney damage. Those with diabetes and high blood pressure are more likely to get kidney disease.

When the kidney functioning decreases severely, dialysis, in which a machine or other methods are used to clean the blood, may be required, or a transplant may be necessary. Dialysis does not cure renal failure, but only treats it.

Relevant Conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Side Effects
  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Sleep problems
  • Swollen feet, ankles
  • Frequent urination
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