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Nephrology

nephrologyAbout us

Nephrology is a specialist service which focuses on diseases which cause problems with kidney function. Normally, these diseases are long term conditions which slowly cause damage to the kidneys e.g. diabetes, certain auto-immune conditions. A clinic is provided at North Devon District Hospital where the extent and progression of kidney disease can be monitored.

What is kidney disease?

Kidneys filter waste products from the blood and maintain the fluid balance within the body. When a kidney becomes damaged it does not filter as efficiently and waste products build up within the blood. This produces a variety of different symptoms including tiredness, swollen ankles and nausea. Kidney disease is normally a long term illness with a gradual decline in kidney efficiency.

How is kidney disease treated?

Dialysis is the main treatment for kidney disease and can be performed in a variety of different ways; however, they all operate under the same principle. Your blood is filtered by passing it over a semi-permeable membrane with a special fluid on the other side. Waste products and other chemicals are able to pass through this membrane but blood cells can’t. Dialysis is normally performed in one of the satellite kidney units within Devon and you may need to attend two or three times per week.

Ultimately, as kidney function continues to decline it will become necessary to replace your kidneys with a transplant. The nephrology service will look after you throughout but specialist transplant surgeons will perform any surgery.

Where can I find more information?

More detailed information on kidney disease and dialysis can be found on NHS choices.