End-stage renal disease treatment may include:
- Kidney transplant
- Supportive care
A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure to place a healthy kidney from a live or deceased donor into a person whose kidneys no longer function properly. A kidney transplant is often the treatment of choice for end-stage renal disease, compared with a lifetime on dialysis.
The kidney transplant process takes time. It involves finding a donor, living or deceased, whose kidney best matches your own. You then undergo a surgical procedure to place the new kidney in your lower abdomen and attach the blood vessels and ureter — the tube that links the kidney to the bladder — that will allow the new kidney to function.
You'll spend several days to a week in the hospital. After leaving the hospital, you'll have frequent checkups as your recovery continues. You'll take a number of medications to help keep your immune system from rejecting your new kidney and to reduce the risk of post-surgery complications, such as infection.
After a successful kidney transplant, your new kidney filters your blood, and you no longer need dialysis.
Dialysis does some of the work of your kidneys when your kidneys can't do it themselves. This includes removing extra fluids and waste products from your blood, restoring electrolyte levels, and helping control your blood pressure.
Dialysis options include peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis.
For dialysis to be successful, you may need to make lifestyle changes, such as following certain dietary recommendations.
With supportive care, your symptoms are managed so that you feel better. You may choose supportive care alone or combine it with other treatment options.
Without either dialysis or a transplant, kidney failure progresses, eventually leading to death. In some people, the disease progresses slowly over months and years, while in others the disease progresses quickly.
Potential future treatments
Regenerative medicine holds the potential to fully heal damaged tissues and organs, offering solutions and hope for people who have conditions that today are beyond repair.
Regenerative medicine approaches include:
- Boosting the body's natural ability to heal itself
- Using healthy cells, tissues or organs from a living or deceased donor to replace damaged ones
- Delivering specific types of cells or cell products to diseased tissues or organs to restore tissue and organ function
For people with kidney disease, regenerative medicine approaches may be developed in the future to help slow progression of the disease.