National Kidney Month
Mar 08, 2016
What are kidneys
Kidneys are fist-sized, bean-shaped organs located on each side of the spine, and maintain proper fluid balance in the body, removing waste and toxins from the blood. Each day, the kidneys filter about 120-150 quarts (30-37.5 gallons) of blood to make 1-2 quarts (1/4 to 1/2 gallon) of urine, composed of wastes and extra fluid, states The National Kidney and Urologic Disease Information Clearinghouse. Kidneys also produce hormones.
1 in 3 Americans are at risk for kidney disease. Main risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Family history of kidney failure
- Age 60 or older
- Other risk factors include race and overuse of pain medications
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, according to the National Kidney Disease and Education Program. "Early kidney disease usually does not have signs or symptoms. Testing is the only way to know how your kidneys are doing. A blood test checks your GFR, which tells how well your kidneys are filtering. A urine test checks for albumin in your urine. Albumin is a protein that can pass into the urine when the kidneys are damaged."
Imaging and Your Kidneys
- Renal ultrasound is a common imaging test performed to assess the anatomy and structure of the kidneys.
- To identify kidney stones, a CT scan is preferred, because the exam also gives information about the appearance of the ureters and bladder.
- A nuclear medicine renal scan can help determine how the kidneys are functioning.
- If an abnormality is identified on ultrasound or CT, an MRI scan could provide more detailed information.
- An MRA scan can assess the arteries that carry blood to the kidneys for narrowing or blockages, called renal artery stenosis. Renal artery stenosis is often seen in older people who have high blood pressure or vascular disease.