Diseases and conditions

Kidney failure

What is kidney failure?

The kidneys are responsible for removing excess fluid and waste products from the body in the form of urine. When the kidneys do not work properly, these substances accumulate in your blood and can cause problems that could be life-threatening and can impact nearly every aspect of your body. Damage to the nervous system can cause fatigue, nausea, personality changes and seizures. Excess fluid can cause swelling in your limbs and affect your ability to breathe. And electrolyte imbalance may result in life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms.

Acute kidney failure occurs over the course of hours to days. It can be caused by an event that reduces the blood flow to your kidneys. It can also be caused by conditions that damage the kidneys, such as inflammation of the kidney’s filtration system or adverse side effects of toxins in the body. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a decline in kidney function. Risk factors for the development of CKD include diabetes and high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, being age 65 or older, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

Treatment

Interventional radiologists are board-certified physicians who play an integral role in the management of patients with kidney failure by delivering minimally invasive treatments with less risk, less pain, and less recovery time than traditional surgery. When there is a blockage preventing passage of urine from the kidney to the bladder, an interventional radiologist can place a percutaneous nephrostomy tube or ureteral stent to allow urine to flow from the kidney. For instances when patients require hemodialysis, an interventional radiologist can place a hemodialysis catheter or be part of a team that connects an AV fistula to blood vessels. Here is a description of treatment options your interventional radiologist may offer:

  • Percutaneous nephrostomy tube bypasses a blockage of the ureter (tube connecting the kidney and bladder) and directs urine into a bag outside of the body.
  • Ureteral stent placement inserts a tiny mesh tube to bypass a blockage of the ureter, connecting the kidney and bladder.
  • AV fistula is a connection between an artery and vein that gives an access point for dialysis.
  • Hemodialysis catheter is a temporary access point to allow for dialysis when an AV fistula is not available.

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