Renal vasculitis, also called ANCA glomerulonephritis, is an autoimmune disease that causes your white blood cells to attack the glomeruli, the tiny blood vessels that filter blood in your kidneys. This causes swelling and damage to the capillaries (blood vessels). When the glomeruli can’t filter the blood, protein and blood leak into the urine, which can lead to loss of kidney function or kidney failure in severe cases.
There are two main types of renal vasculitis:
- Microscopic polyangiitis (MPA): affects small arteries and veins, and it can also affect your joints, lungs, gastrointestinal system, nerves, and skin
- Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegner’s disease): causes swelling of the blood vessels in your kidneys, lungs, sinuses, and throat
Some people don’t experience any noticeable symptoms until the disease is more advanced. When symptoms do occur, they include abdominal pain, blood in your urine, and a rash on your buttocks or lower legs.
Kidney specialists (nephrologists) at University of Miami Health System are experienced in diagnosing and treating renal vasculitis. We develop a customized treatment plan to improve kidney function and give you relief from symptoms.
A kidney biopsy is a tissue sample taken from the kidney through a needle and analyzed at a lab. Results help your doctor diagnose the type of kidney disease, assess kidney damage, and determine the best treatment.
Blood tests can include blood cell counts, electrolyte levels, and kidney function. If vasculitis is suspected, your doctor will look for anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA), the antibodies that cause white blood cells to attack the kidneys.
Urine samples are sent to a lab to look for red blood cells, white blood cells, infections, or excessive protein in the urine. This sample can be taken once during an appointment, from a urine collection over 24-hours, or straight from the bladder during catheterization.
Your doctor may use medicines to lower your immune system activity, such as steroids and cyclophosphamide, which help reduce the swelling and damage of vasculitis.
Total Plasma Exchange (TPE)
Total plasma exchange, also called plasmapheresis, is a blood-cleaning therapy that removes your blood through a needle or thin, catheter (thin, flexible tube). The plasma is separated, cleaned, and returned to your body. TPE is used in combination with other treatment therapies for glomerular diseases.
Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT)
This therapy includes hemodialysis and other mechanical waste filtration techniques performed slowly over long periods of time (12 to 24 hours). It’s used for critically ill people with sudden (acute) kidney failure.
Why Choose UHealth?
Nationally recognized kidney care. Our kidney care program has been ranked among the nation’s best programs by U.S. News & World Report for the past nine years. We use preventive approaches to help avoid kidney injury and disease, along with advanced therapies to improve kidney health and function. We offer some of the most advanced kidney therapies, including continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) and therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE).
Comprehensive care in a compassionate, supportive environment. Kidney health impacts vital functions throughout your body. The kidneys can also be impacted by autoimmune or genetic disorders, which can lead to additional complications. That’s why our nephrologists work as part of a team to address the whole person. This group can include general physicians and specialists, nurses, social workers, dietitians, psychologists, and teachers.
Latest breakthroughs in clinical treatment. Our leading-edge research allows us to offer advanced approaches you won’t find nearby, including promising new therapies through clinical trials. Our academic research is supported by nationally recognized health organizations, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), American Society of Nephrology, American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association.
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