What Causes Kidney Failure

Acute kidney or renal failure is when the kidney filtration process suddenly becomes compromised. In this case, the kidneys are unable to do their job properly. Over twenty-six million Americans are living with kidney disease.




The kidneys are located in the posterior part of the abdomen. They are about four to five inches in length and are bean shaped.

Renal Parenchyma is one of the kidney’s functional areas. Water excretion occurs in this area.

Cortex is the exterior layer of the parenchyma, which contains connective tissues.

The renal fascia (superficial), adipose capsule (protects kidney) and the renal capsule (keeps the shape of the kidney) are the three layers that protect the kidneys from harm.

Renal Pelvis is another functional area and the central collecting system.

Filtration takes place in the Glomeruli, convoluted tubules.

Medulla is closest to the center of the kidney and is responsible for the filtration and concentration of wastes. It is divided into two renal pyramids.

Loop Of Henle enters the descending limb of the medulla and exits out the ascending limb. It uses countercurrent multiplier to filter water and sodium chloride out, without changing the concentration.

Nephrons, which range up into the thousands, are found in the kidneys. They are responsible for filtering solutes and are considered to be the basic functional unit of the kidneys.

Plural Calyces is the collection area.

Renal hilum is an indentation near the concave medial border and the ureter, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and nerves pass through it.


Renal Functions


The kidneys are the filtering system and work twenty-hours a day to filter waste out of the human blood. They also use homeostasis to balance fluid volume and minerals in the body. The kidneys also produce erythropoietin, which sends a signal to the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. Other important functions include blood pressure regulation and pH (acid-base) balance.


Kidney Impairment Factors


There are several conditions, medications, clotting disorders, and decreased blood flow that impair kidneys and their functions.


Myocardial infarction (heart attack)

Bacterial infection, septicemia, and sepsis

Liver failure and serious illness

Anti-hypertensive medications (high blood pressure medications) and over the counter analgesics (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and Aleve), chemotherapy, intravenous

Anaphylaxis (serious allergic reaction)

Severe burns, trauma, and complicated surgery

Severe dehydration

Lupus, Multiple myeloma, blood clots in renal arteries and veins, and plaque buildup

Placenta abruption (separation of the placenta) and placenta previa (completely covers the cervix) can also cause damage to the kidneys.




Metallic breath or taste

Decreased appetite, nausea, and vomiting

Fatigue, sluggish motor activity

Flank pain

Tremors and seizure activity

Mental status and mood changes, insomnia (inability to sleep)

Melena (tarry stools)


Dyspnea (shortness of breath)


Anuria (decreased urine output), nocturia (excessive urination at night), oliguria (little to no urine)

Persistent Hiccupping, angina (chest pain)


Diagnostic Testing


Urinalysis, 24-hour protein test

Glomerular filtration rate (serum creatinine test)

Arterial blood gas (measures pH, oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels in the blood)

Albuminuria-to-creatinine ratio (detects albumin or protein in the urine)




Acute renal failure is normally treated with renal dialysis (artificial kidney machine). In most cases the kidney function will return to normal over a specific period of time.

Diuretics (Lasix) will be ordered to promote the kidneys to rid the body of sodium and water.