What is Renal Pathology?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Renal pathology is a branch of medical practice concerned with diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. A vital branch of study, renal pathology guides treatment plans for kidney problems from diagnosis to final state. Pathologists specializing in kidney diseases often work cooperatively with other doctors, consultants, and the patient in order to craft a strategy to fight or cure kidney disease.

The kidneys are an extremely vital part of normal human body function. Considered part of the body's urinary system, the kidneys perform several crucial functions when working normally. In addition to creating and managing urine production, healthy kidneys assist in balancing the nutrients, minerals and electrolytes present in the water that makes up nearly 70% of the body. When a problem occurs that affects kidney function, results can be life-altering and even fatal.

The kidneys are subject to many types of illness and can also be affected by conditions affecting other organs in the body. Hereditary disorders such as misshapen or fused kidneys can lead to higher risks of obstruction or kidney failure. The renal system is also subject to cancer, cysts, and infection. With so many conditions capable of harming such a vital organ, the importance of renal pathology cannot be overstated.


Renal pathologists will usually attempt to reach a diagnosis by recording patient symptoms and running lab tests on blood, fluid, and urine samples. If cysts or growths are suspected, pathologists may use imaging machinery in order to get clear pictures of the kidneys. Once diagnosed, a pathologist will be able to recommend a course of treatment to cure, improve, or manage the condition.

The work of renal pathology is extremely important to other renal specialists. Surgeons that specialize in kidney operations will often consult with the patient's renal pathologist about required or recommended procedures. In cases of kidney cancer or tumors in the renal system, radiologists and oncologists may also work closely with doctors who specialize in renal pathology to create the best course of treatments for a patient.

Renal pathology is often detective work, as there are so many conditions that can damage or alter kidney function. By studying symptoms and available information carefully, renal pathologists are able to weed through dozens of conditions or illnesses that may be causing kidney problems in order to come up with the correct diagnosis. The knowledge gained through the study of renal pathology is also vital to understanding the effectiveness and dangers of new treatments and medication for kidney problems, and can be critically important in developing new methods of curing kidney conditions.



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