What is End Stage Renal Disease?

End-stage renal Disease (ESRD) is a critical and irreversible medical condition characterized by total kidney failure. In this stage, the kidneys lose their ability to filter waste and excess fluids from the blood, a function crucial for maintaining body balance.

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Identifying Risk Factors for ESRD

Several risk factors can accelerate the progression towards ESRD:

  • Chronic Kidney Disease: Unmanaged kidney disease over an extended period often culminates in ESRD.
  • Diabetes: Poorly regulated diabetes is a common cause of kidney deterioration leading to failure.
  • Hypertension: Consistent high blood pressure over time puts undue stress on the kidneys.
  • Age: The likelihood of developing ESRD escalates with age, particularly among those above 60.
  • Genetic predisposition: A family history of kidney disease can increase the susceptibility to kidney disorders.

What is ESRD?

End-stage renal Disease (ESRD), also known as kidney failure, is the final stage of chronic kidney disease (CKD). It happens when your kidneys are no longer able to work at a level needed for day-to-day life.

The kidneys have several essential functions in the body, including filtering waste and excess fluid from the blood, maintaining the balance of electrolytes, and producing hormones that help regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells, and keep bones healthy. When the kidneys are damaged, they gradually lose their ability to perform these functions. Kidney damage often progresses slowly over many years, usually due to conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, which gradually damage the nephrons - the tiny units within the kidney where blood is filtered. In the early stages of kidney disease, healthy nephrons can take over the workload from the damaged ones. However, if the damage continues, more and more nephrons shut down. After a certain point, the remaining nephrons can no longer filter the blood well enough to keep you healthy. When kidney function drops below 15%, a person has ESRD. At this stage, dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary to survive.

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Diagnosing ESRD

The diagnosis of ESRD involves several tests:

  • Blood Tests: These measure the levels of waste products and electrolytes in the blood.
  • Urinalysis: This test detects abnormalities in the urine.
  • Imaging Studies: Ultrasound or CT scans provide a visual assessment of the kidneys.
  • Biopsy: A small sample of kidney tissue may be extracted for microscopic examination.
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Recognizing Symptoms of ESRD

Symptoms associated with ESRD may include:

  • Persistent fatigue and weakness
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet
  • Constant itching
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea followed by vomiting
  • Changes in urine output and color

Significance of early diagnosis in ESRD

Early detection of ESRD is vital as it allows for timely interventions such as dialysis or transplantation, which can significantly improve life quality and longevity.

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What are the treatment options for ESRD?

Though ESRD is incurable, it is manageable with treatments that substitute for the kidneys' lost functions and control associated symptoms:


This procedure purifies the blood by filtering out waste products and excess fluids.

Kidney Transplantation

A healthy kidney from a donor replaces the malfunctioning kidneys.


Drugs can be prescribed to manage symptoms and prevent complications.

How is ESRD associated with vascular health?

End-stage renal Disease (ESRD), often referred to as kidney failure, falls under vascular health due to the kidneys' integral role in maintaining proper blood filtration and circulation. The kidneys are richly supplied with blood vessels, and any damage to these vessels can impair the kidneys' ability to filter waste from the blood. Conditions that affect the blood vessels, such as diabetes and hypertension, are major risk factors for ESRD. Individuals with ESRD often require dialysis, which involves the creation of a vascular access point. This is usually done by surgically connecting an artery to a vein, typically in the arm, to create a site where blood can be easily drawn and returned to the body during dialysis. This procedure, known as arteriovenous (AV) fistula, directly involves the vascular system. Therefore, the management and treatment of ESRD necessitate a sound understanding of vascular health, making it a crucial aspect of vascular medicine.

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Role of our vascular lab in ESRD management

Surgical Associates' state-of-the-art Vascular Lab plays a pivotal role in managing ESRD. We use advanced diagnostic tools, such as Doppler ultrasound, to evaluate blood flow and identify any vascular complications associated with ESRD. Our lab also serves as a treatment center, where we employ cutting-edge technology and minimally invasive techniques to treat ESRD-related vascular issues. Our lab's convenience is a major advantage, allowing patients to experience pre-op, surgery, and recovery within the same facility, reducing wait times, and promoting faster discharge.

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Why trust Surgical Associates for ESRD management?

Established in 1985, Surgical Associates has been a premier surgical practice in North Central Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Accredited by AAAHC, we specialize in a wide range of surgical procedures, including those related to vascular conditions like ESRD. Our team of ten specialized surgeons brings extensive experience and a track record of high patient satisfaction. Our Office-Based Lab (OBL) houses state-of-the-art equipment, enabling us to offer minimally invasive procedures and expedite recoveries. We are committed to delivering personalized care and maintaining a high nurse-to-patient ratio to ensure exceptional outcomes. Patient education is at the forefront of our approach, empowering patients to make informed decisions about their health.

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