Patient Education

Central Maryland Nephrology would like to be your partner in health care. Feel free to ask your questions and share your concerns with us. We will work with you to develop a wellness program for the care and treatment you need.

We welcome you to our practice and look forward to caring for you.

Central Maryland Nephrology provides a full range of medical services including the following:


Acute Renal Failure

Acute renal failure (ARF), often referred to as acute kidney injury, occurs when the kidneys suddenly stop filtering waste products from the blood. This sudden loss of function can result from injury, trauma, infection, or from complications around the time of surgery. 

Causes of Acute Renal Failure

Acute renal failure can be caused by a loss of blood flow to the kidneys, or when blocked or damaged kidneys prevent urine from flowing. Although ARF can affect anyone, it is more common in older people, and those who suffer from underlying conditions that include the following: ...


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Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) refers to the gradual loss of kidney function over a long period of time. The kidneys are responsible for eliminating waste and excess water from the body. Loss of kidney function can cause a dangerous buildup of toxins and fluid over time. Chronic kidney disease is most often associated with diabetes and high blood pressure, but it also can be caused by inflammatory or autoimmune diseases or many other conditions. ...


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Dialysis FAQs

What is dialysis?

Dialysis is a process that substitutes for kidney function when the normal operation of the kidneys is interrupted. In a healthy body, the kidneys serve to regulate fluid levels in the body and filter waste products. Dialysis performs these functions when the kidneys are unable to remove fluid or toxins from the body. ...


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Duplex Ultrasound

The duplex ultrasound is a diagnostic test administered to assess blood circulation. It combines the techniques of traditional ultrasound with those of Doppler ultrasound. Traditional ultrasound uses sound waves to create black-and-white images of the veins and arteries. Doppler technology, on the other hand, uses sound waves to track circulating blood, generating color images of blood as it flows through the body. Using this combination of techniques, duplex ultrasound helps to distinguish several important characteristics of the blood vessels, including speed and direction of blood flow and diameter of the vessels themselves. Duplex ultrasound can also detect the presence and extent of any obstruction in the blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis or blood clots. ...


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Edema

Edema (water retention) is swelling caused by an excessive accumulation of fluid in the body. It typically affects the hands, feet, arms, ankles and legs, but can develop in any part of the body. The lower legs are particularly susceptible to edema due to the force of gravity.

Normally, the kidneys filter the blood and help to maintain a proper metabolic balance. However, under certain conditions, too much fluid is retained and swelling results. Mild edema may be inconsequential, but because fluid buildup can result from a more serious medical condition, a physician should be consulted when symptoms are more severe or prolonged. ...


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Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolytes are ionized materials found naturally in the body that help to regulate nerve and muscle function, fluid levels and help maintain proper acid or pH levels in the body. Common electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and chloride.

Causes of Electrolyte Imbalance

Healthy kidneys regulate the electrolytes within the body by filtering them from the blood and excreting any excess through the urine. However, when the kidneys do not function properly, an imbalance may occur. Electrolyte imbalance also may be the result of: ...


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End-Stage Renal Disease

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) occurs when the kidneys are functioning at less than 10-15 percent of their normal capabilities, and are no longer able to filter waste from the blood.  Patients with ESRD also may be unable to remove fluid adequately from their body.  Without treatment, ESRD is typically a fatal disease. ...


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Hematuria

Hematuria is the presence of red blood cells in the urine. When blood is visible in the urine, it is called gross hematuria. Microscopic hematuria is not visible but is detected on a urinalysis or by examining the urine under a microscope.

Causes of Hematuria

Bleeding can occur at any location along the urinary tract. This includes the kidneys, ureter, bladder, urethra and the prostate in men. While blood in the urine is not always the sign of a serious disease or condition, it may be an indication of any of the following conditions: ...


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Hemodialysis

The chief function of the kidneys is to filter waste products from the blood. When the kidneys fail, hemodialysis is used to clean the blood and remove excess fluid.  

Hemodialysis is necessary for patients who have end-stage kidney, and it also can be used in patient's with acute kidney failure. Usually, hemodialysis is required when more than 85 to 90 percent of kidney function has been lost. In some cases, hemodialysis is needed only temporarily until kidney function returns, but in most cases it is required for the rest of the patient's life or until the patient receives a kidney transplant.

Common causes of kidney failure include the following:
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Hemodialysis Access Management

Hemodialysis treats kidney failure by filtering the blood and removing waste and excess fluid.  While this treatment can be highly effective, there are times when the dialysis access requires special management to ensure a healthy flow.

Hemodialysis fistulas, grafts, and catheters may be susceptible to low blood flow as a result of clotting or narrowing of the access.  In order to correct this problem and restore proper blood flow, angioplasty or thrombolysis (medicine to dissolve clots) may be needed.  In more severe cases, a new hemodialysis access may need to be placed.  Your dialysis team may refer you to a surgeon or to a dialysis access center for further evaluation if your fistula, graft, or catheter is not achieving optimal performance. ...


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Hyperkalemia

Hyperkalemia is a metabolic disorder in which there is an elevated concentration of potassium in the blood. Potassium is necessary for proper functioning of nerves and muscles, including heart muscle, but an excess level of potassium may disrupt the proper functioning of cells.  Severe hyperkalemia can be life threatening. ...


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Hyponatremia

Hyponatremia is an electrolyte imbalance in which the sodium concentration in the blood is abnormally low. This can lead to an abnormal distribution and concentration of water throughout the body. 

Causes of Hyponatremia

There are many causes of hyponatremia; including the following: ...


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Kidney Failure

Kidney failure refers to a decline in kidney function to the extent that the patient requires dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to survive. Kidney failure can occur suddenly (acute renal failure, also known as acute kidney injury) or gradually over time. Severe, permanent kidney failure is called end-stage renal disease.  ...


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Kidney Stones

A kidney stone, also known as renal calculi or nephrolithiasis, is a hardened mass of mineral and acid salts that separates from the urine and travels through the urinary tract. The urine normally dilutes and dissolves these substances, but when the composition of urine is unbalanced, crystallized stones can form. Kidney stones can cause severe pain and occasionally can lead to permanent damage to the urinary tract or body. ...


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Kidney Transplant

A kidney transplant is the replacement of a nonfunctioning kidney with a healthy donor kidney to restore proper waste management and blood filtering in the body. Candidates for kidney transplantation are patients who have advanced kidney disease or who are already on dialysis for end stage renal disease.

The replacement kidney can come from a living or deceased donor.  ...


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Kidney Function Evaluation

Because kidney disease does not usually produce symptoms in its early stages, many patients who have abnormal kidney function are unaware of it. Regular kidney function evaluation can detect kidney problems in their earliest stages. People who have high blood pressure, diabetes and/or a family history of kidney conditions are at greater risk, and therefore are more likely to benefit from kidney function testing. ...


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Lupus Nephritis

Systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly known as lupus or SLE, is an autoimmune disease in which the a patient's immune system attacks his or her own body and causes damage to the kidney, brain, joints, skin, and other organs. When lupus affects the kidneys, it is known as lupus nephritis.  Lupus nephritis can be mild, moderate, or severe, and treatments plans are tailored to each patient individually. ...


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Metabolic Acidosis

Metabolic acidosis is a condition where there is an excess build up of acid in the body. Acidosis is typically detected by testing the acid level in the blood.  There are many different causes of metabolic acidosis, some of which are related to kidney disease and some that are unrelated to the kidneys. ...


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Nephritis

Nephritis (kidney inflammation) is most often caused by autoimmune diseases that affect the kidney, though it also can result from infection. It can affect people of all ages, although its cause differs depending on whether children or adults are affected.

Symptoms of Nephritis

Although some patients may not not have any symptoms, many patients with nephritis may notice one or more of the following: ...


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Nephrology

Nephrology is the branch of internal medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect the function of the kidneys. The human body has two kidneys, which act as filters by removing waste and excess fluid from the blood. Some diseases that affect the kidneys are limited to just the kidneys themselves, but other diseases are systemic and require medical attention not only by nephrologists, but also by specialists in other fields, such as immunology or rheumatology.  ...


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Peritoneal Dialysis

Dialysis is a treatment that filters the blood and removes waste products when the kidneys have failed, either temporarily or permanently.  There are two types of dialysis, hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.  During hemodialysis, the patient's blood is circulated through a machine to be cleaned before being returned to the body.  ...


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Peritonitis

The peritoneum is the lining of the inner abdominal wall. It serves as a protective covering for the abdominal organs. Peritonitis is a infection of the peritoneum, usually from bacteria.

Causes of Peritonitis

There are many causes of peritonitis. These may include:

  • Gastointestinal disorders such as diverticulitis or Crohn's disease.
  • A rupture of a stomach ulcer, the appendix, or a large intestine diverticulum
  • Perforations of an abdominal organ
  • Pancreatitis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease or infection 






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Polycystic Kidney Disease

Polycystic kidney disease, also known as PKD, is a genetic disorder that leads to the development of cysts within the kidneys. A cyst is a non cancerous, fluid-filled sac that can vary in size and sometimes grow extremely large. When these cysts form, the kidneys may become enlarged and suffer from reduced function. In severe cases, the kidneys may fail completely.  The most common form of PKD, known as autosomal dominant PKD, typically does not become symptomatic until patients reach adulthood. ...


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Proteinuria

Proteinuria is defined as an abnormal amount of protein in the urine. The kidneys are designed to remove toxins and fluid from the blood, but protein is not supposed to be filtered out of the blood and into the urine.  When protein is found in the urine, it typically is a sign of kidney disease.

Causes of Proteinuria

Proteinuria may occur in many different types of kidney disease.  Some diseases that are commonly associated with proteinuria include: ...


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Renal Artery Stenosis

Renal artery stenosis (RAS) is the narrowing of one or both of the renal arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood to the kidneys from the aorta. RAS often causes high blood pressure and reduced kidney function, but many times it has no symptoms until it becomes severe. Most cases of RAS are caused by a condition called atherosclerosis, which leads to narrowing and hardening of the renal arteries. RAS develops when plaque builds up on the inner wall of the renal arteries, causing them to harden and narrow.

RAS also can be caused by fibromuscular dysplasia, an abnormal growth of tissue within the wall of the artery, which also causes the blood vessels to narrow. ...


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Renal Biopsy

A renal biopsy is a procedure in which a piece of tissue is extracted from a kidney to help diagnose a kidney disorder. There are two kidneys, each located in the back of the abdominal cavity. 

In most cases, renal biopsies are performed by using ultrasound or a CT scan as a guide for placement of a small needle under the ribs in the back.  The needle is slowly guided into one of the kidneys to obtain small samples of tissue, which are then processed and sent to a lab for careful evaluation.  Patients may be given sedation and/or a local anesthetic during the procedure. ...


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Renal Nuclear Medicine Scan

A renal (kidney) nuclear medicine scan is a diagnostic test used to evaluate kidney function and diagnose certain kidney diseases. It can be an effective diagnostic tool because, in addition to showing the anatomy of the kidneys, it reveals how well the kidneys are functioning. During the scan, a radioisotope or tracer is injected into a vein.  The tracer is followed with special detectors and imaging as it passes through the kidneys. The images show the delivery of blood into the kidneys, the buildup of waste in the kidney, and the excretion of fluid from the kidneys through the ureters and into the bladder. Being able to analyze kidney function allows physicians to diagnose certain types of kidney diseases more quickly and accurately than is possible with standard imaging tests. ...


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Renovascular Disease

Renovascular disease is the blockage or narrowing within the renal arteries or veins, the blood vessels that carry blood to and from the kidneys. The arteries are affected much more commonly than the veins. This condition occurs more often in older patients, though young women may also be at risk for a certain type of renovascular disease called fibromuscular dysplasia. ...


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Retroperitoneal Ultrasound

A retroperitoneal ultrasound is a diagnostic test used to examine the area behind the intestines and other abdominal organs. It allows doctors to view the patient's kidneys and ureters and can help diagnose a number of conditions, such as renal cysts or gallstones. This procedure is painless and relatively quick. ...


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Urinalysis

Urinalysis is a test performed to analyze a patient's urine in order to assess kidney health and to detect urinary tract infections.  

Reasons for Urinalysis

Apart from the administration of a urinalysis during the course of a routine medical examination, the test may also be performed on patients who are pregnant, being cleared for surgery, or to monitor certain chronic diseases. ...


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Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common infection of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. 

Causes of a UTI

Most urinary tract infections are a result of a bacterial infection.  The risk of developing a UTI may increase with the following: ...


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Vascular Access for Dialysis

Dialysis is a blood-cleansing procedure used as treatment for severe kidney failure. The chief function of the kidneys is to filter waste products and excess fluid from the body. When the kidneys fail, dialysis is performed to remove toxins and fluids.  Dialysis can be performed by hemodialysis which cleans the blood directly through a machine, or with peritoneal dialysis which involves using sterile fluid instilled into the abdominal cavity.  This topic will cover vascular access for hemodialysis. ...


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