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Pediatric Nephrology Kidney failure

​​​​​When kidneys lose their ability to filter fluids and waste, dangerous levels of these substances accumulate in the body. 

This condition is known as kidney (renal) failure and without treatment, the buildup of toxins, extra fluid and dangerous levels of minerals in the blood will eventually cause death. 

To address this problem, Marshfield Clinic has assembled a team of experts to treat your child's kidney problems.


A Marshfield Clinic doctor will evaluate your child's condition to recommend the best plan for treatment of kidney failure. There are a few different options that could be recommended:

In cases where the cause of the kidney failure can be reversed and the kidneys have at least some of their function remaining, medications can be used as the kidney function returns.

  • Diuretics (water pills) may be prescribed by doctors in the early stages.
  • A child may need additional medication if they also have high blood pressure.

Dietary changes may be required to help address metabolic changes that develop with kidney failure. Dietary consultation will be an important component of the care in children with chronic (ongoing) kidney disease.

When kidney function falls below 10% a patient will typically need a process called "dialysis" to control the symptoms of kidney failure. About three times a week waste products are removed from the child's body in one of two ways:

  • Hemodialysis - a machine takes blood from the body, filters out the waste, then returns it back to the patient.
  • Peritoneal dialysis - fluid is placed in the patient's abdomen through a tube causing the abdomen lining and the fluid to clean the blood.

Kidney transplants have become the best treatment for many patients with end-stage kidney failure. Transplants have grown in success rate due to advancements in medications that keep the body from rejecting the new kidney and the fact that organs can come from living donors. 

Although Marshfield Clinic does not perform transplantation, the pediatric nephrology team works closely with a transplant center to coordinate care both before and after transplantation.

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If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

Call: 1-866-520-2510

(Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.)

Take the Kidney Stone Quiz

Kidney stones are one of the most common problems of the urinary tract—and one of the most painful disorders. How much do you know about kidney stones? Try your hand at this quiz, based on information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

1. Most kidney stones pass through a person's urinary tract without any medical intervention.
2. Anyone can develop kidney stones.
3. A kidney stone forms from chemicals that the body is trying to get rid of.
4. A urinary tract infection can put you at risk for developing kidney stones.
5. The pain from a kidney stone comes on gradually, growing more and more intense.
6. Most kidney stones large enough to cause pain must be removed surgically.
7. Drinking plenty of water can help prevent the recurrence of kidney stones.
8. Some kidney stones can be removed by using shockwaves.