What is Renal Pathophysiology?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 December 2018
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Renal pathophysiology is the study of diseases and conditions that affect the kidneys. Studying renal pathophysiology is a must for medical students planning to specialize in kidney-related conditions. Understanding renal pathophysiology may also be helpful for people with kidney disease or conditions that effect the kidney, so they may better learn to recognize symptoms or abnormalities.

The study of pathophysiology is a combination of two distinct fields. Pathology studies the normal functioning procedure of an organ or system, while physiology concerns the impact of disease on the body. Renal pathophysiology requires expert knowledge in both fields, and for good reason. By knowing how the system should normally work, the severity of the condition can be determined. In addition, by studying how a certain disease will progress and impact the body, treatment and prognosis can be given with greater accuracy.

When the body experiences an abnormal condition, it reacts with a variety of symptoms and physical responses. Often, these symptoms are the clues that doctors follow in order to make an accurate diagnosis. Renal, or kidney, function is major part of the body, that can easily be affected by physical abnormalities, genetic or acquired conditions, or even injury. By studying renal pathophysiology, kidney specialists can often identify what is causing the symptoms to occur and recommend treatment. Common illnesses studied in renal pathophysiology include kidney stones and cysts, cancers related to the kidneys, and kidney failure.


The human body is nearly 70% water, but the water itself is a carefully balanced concoction of minerals, salt, and electrolytes. A healthy body can regulate the formula of water by using the kidneys without any assistance, as long as hydration and nutrition levels are normal. The kidneys are a crucial part of the body, helping to balance substances in the body, create urine, and remove waste from the system. When an illness or abnormality causes kidney problems, renal pathophysiology comes into play in determining what is happening and what may happen next.

The study of renal pathophysiology is common for medical students that plan to base their career around disease and treatment of kidney problems. Advanced study in the subject often allows doctors to have a greater understanding of kidney symptoms and conditions and how to treat them. By studying and understanding the healthy and unhealthy behavior of such a vital organ, kidney specialists are better able to save lives and improve quality of life for patients with kidney problems.



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