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Renal papillary necrosis

Definition

Renal papillary necrosis is a disorder of the kidneys in which all or part renal papillae die. The renal papillae is the area where the openings of the collecting ducts enter the kidney.

Alternative Names

Necrosis - renal papillae; Renal medullary necrosis

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Renal papillary necrosis is most commonly associated with analgesic nephropathy. However, a number of conditions can cause this condition, including:

Sickle cell anemia is a common cause of renal papillary necrosis in children.

Symptoms

Necrosis (tissue death) of the renal papillae may make the kidney unable to concentrate the urine. Symptoms may include:

Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:

Signs and tests

An examination may reveal tenderness when touching the body over the affected kidney. There may be a history of chronic or recurrent urinary tract infections. There may be signs of obstructive uropathy or renal failure.

A urinalysis may show dead tissue in the urine.

An IVP may show obstruction or tissue in the renal pelvis or ureter.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for renal papillary necrosis. Treatment depends on the underlying cause. For example, if analgesic nephropathy is suspected as the cause, your doctor will recommend that you stop using the suspected medications. This may allow healing over time.

Support Groups

Expectations (prognosis)

How well a person does depends on the underlying condition. If the underlying disorder can be controlled, the condition may go away on its own. In some cases, persons with this condition develop kidney failure.

Complications

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have bloody urine. Also call if other symptoms of renal papillary necrosis develop, especially after taking over-the-counter pain medications.

Prevention

Control of diabetes or sickle cell anemia may reduce risk. Prevention of renal papillary necrosis from analgesic nephropathy includes careful moderation in the use of medications, including over-the-counter analgesics.

References

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    Review Date: 8/17/2009

    Review By: Parul Patel, MD, Private Practice specializing in Nephrology and Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation, Affiliated with California Pacific Medical Center, Department of Transplantation, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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