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Summary of The Kidney Function Test

1. Removal of waste products
  1. Purification of blood by removal of waste products is the most important function of the kidney.
  2. The food that we consume contains protein. Protein is necessary for the growth and repair of the body. But as protein is utilized by the body it produces waste products. Accumulation and retention of these waste products is similar to retaining poison inside the body. Each kidney filters blood, and toxic waste products which are eventually excreted in the urine.
  3. Creatinine and urea are two important waste products that can easily be measured in the blood. Their “values” in blood tests reflects the function of the kidney. When both the kidneys fail, value of creatinine and urea will be high in blood test.

2. Removal of excess fluid
  1. The second most important function of the kidney is the regulation of fluid balance by excreting excess amount of water as urine while retaining the necessary amount of water in the body, that is essential for living .When the kidneys, fail they lose the ability of removing this excess amount of water. Excess water in the body leads to swelling.

3. Balance minerals and chemicals
  1. The kidneys play another important role of regulating minerals and chemicals like sodium, potassium, hydrogen, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and bicarbonate and maintains normal composition of body fluid.
  2. Changes in the sodium level can affect person’s mental state, while changes in the potassium level can have serious adverse effects on the rhythm of the heart as well as functioning of the muscles. Maintenance of normal level of the calcium and phosphorus is essential for healthy bones and teeth.

4. Control of blood pressure
  1. The kidneys produce different hormones (renin, angiotensin, aldosterone, prostaglandin etc) which help regulate water and salt in the body, which plays vital roles in the maintenance of good blood pressure control. Disturbances in hormone production and regulation of salt and water in a patient with kidney failure can lead to high blood pressure.

5. Red blood cells production
  1. Erythropoietin is another hormone produced in the kidneys, it plays an important role in the production of red blood cells (RBC). During kidney failure, production of erythropoietin is decreased, which in turn leads to decreased production of RBC resulting in low hemoglobin (anemia). This is the reason why in patients with kidney failure, the hemoglobin count does not improve despite supplementation with iron and vitamin preparations.

6. To maintain healthy bones
  1. The kidneys convert vitamin D into its active form which is essential for the absorption of calcium from food, growth of the bones and teeth, and keep the bones strong and healthy. During kidney failure, decreased active vitamin D leads to decreased, growth of bones and they also become weak. Growth retardation may be sign of kidney failure in children.