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End-stage kidney disease

  • Definition

    End-stage kidney disease is the complete, or almost complete failure of the kidneys to function. The main function of the kidneys is to remove wastes and excess water from the body.


    Alternative Names

    Renal failure - end stage; Kidney failure - end stage; ESRD


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    End-stage kidney disease (ESRD) occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to function at a level needed for day-to-day life. It usually occurs when chronic kidney disease has worsened to the point at which kidney function is less than 10% of normal.

    ESRD almost always follows chronic kidney disease. A person may have gradual worsening of kidney function for 10 - 20 years or more before progressing to ESRD.

    Patients who have reached this stage need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

    The most common causes of ESRD in the U.S. are diabetes and high blood pressure. See Chronic kidney disease for a complete list of causes.