Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kidney Biopsy

Over the years, I have seen and gone through a lot of the different medical tests available. Not so much because I am a kidney transplant patient, nor because I had to go through dialysis. In fact, from what I've noticed, if things go smoothly as many dialysis and transplant patients I know do, the tests that and procedures you go through are not much different from those experienced by people who get annual check-ups. They just happen more frequently.

Most of my experience has come about because a lot of strange things happen to me. I can actually recall a few times when my doctor had to set up conferences with her colleagues in the hospital, then another with her mentors in another hospital before figuring out how to handle my situation. Needless to say, between those meetings, I went through batteries of tests.

The one thing I learned is that when it comes to assessing the health of the kidney, the kidney biopsy is the number one procedure for the job. Before you begin to argue, let me explain myself. By the words assessing the health of the kidney, I don't mean assessing how it is functioning or how well it is doing work. Instead, I am referring to how well the status of the organ is.

The reason I separate the two, which are often referred to as meaning the same, is that the kidney can current show good function but when you give it a closer look and analyze it's structure, it may not be as healthy as is seems.

Take for instance, an active person, say in his mid-20's to mid-30's, who is playing a pick-up game of basketball on a sunny Saturday afternoon. He's athletic, muscular, in good physical shape and could play with the best of them. All of a sudden, in the middle of the game, he drops. His heart stops beating...

As sad as this analogy is, it has actually happened, in fact, to a number of professional athletes nonetheless. The thing I am driving at is that if the health of the kidney, its internal makings and structure are damaged or weakening, the effects of it may not manifest itself yet, so from the blood tests, it may look as if everything is a okay, but only on the surface.

Here's where the biopsy comes in. By taking a sample of the kidney, and analyzing that tissue, the biopsy will show how the kidney structure is, whether it is normal or is there scarring, if there is infection, if the kidney is receiving enough blood, and if there are certain disease from other parts of the body that have reached the kidney, or if there are tumors present.

Good kidney function may only be temporary if the underlying health of the kidney is hurt or weakened. The effects may not be present initially in the creatinine, but in due time they will appear.

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