All Medical Procedures

A common blood test, the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) test reveals important information about how well your kidneys and liver are working. A BUN test measures the amount of urea nitrogen that's in your blood.

Here's how your body typically forms and gets rid of urea nitrogen:

  • Your liver produces ammonia — which contains nitrogen — after it breaks down proteins used by your body's cells.
  • The nitrogen combines with other elements, such as carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, to form urea, which is a chemical waste product.
  • The urea travels from your liver to your kidneys through your bloodstream.
  • Healthy kidneys filter urea and remove other waste products from your blood.
  • The filtered waste products leave your body through urine.

A BUN test can reveal whether your urea nitrogen levels are higher than normal, suggesting that your kidneys or liver may not be working properly.

A creatinine test reveals important information about your kidneys.

Creatinine is a chemical waste product that's produced by your muscle metabolism and to a smaller extent by eating meat. Healthy kidneys filter creatinine and other waste products from your blood. The filtered waste products leave your body in your urine.

If your kidneys aren't functioning properly, an increased level of creatinine may accumulate in your blood. A serum creatinine test measures the level of creatinine in your blood and gives you an estimate of how well your kidneys filter (glomerular filtration rate). A creatinine urine test can measure creatinine in your urine.

In hemodialysis, a machine filters wastes, salts and fluid from your blood when your kidneys are no longer healthy enough to do this work adequately. Hemodialysis is the most common way to treat advanced kidney failure. The procedure can help you carry on an active life despite failing kidneys.

Hemodialysis requires you to follow a strict treatment schedule, take medications regularly and, usually, make changes in your diet.

Hemodialysis is a serious responsibility, but you don't have to shoulder it alone. You'll work closely with your health care team, including a kidney specialist and other professionals with experience managing hemodialysis. You may be able to do hemodialysis at home.

Peritoneal (per-ih-toe-NEE-ul) dialysis is another way to remove waste products from your blood when your kidneys can no longer do the job adequately. During peritoneal dialysis, blood vessels in your abdominal lining (peritoneum) fill in for your kidneys, with the help of a cleansing fluid that flows into and out of the peritoneal space.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer is a treatment for breast cancers that are sensitive to hormones. The most common forms of hormone therapy for breast cancer work by blocking hormones from attaching to cancer cells or by decreasing your body's production of hormones.

Hormone therapy for breast cancer is often used after surgery to reduce the risk that the cancer will return. Hormone therapy for breast cancer may also be used to shrink a tumor before an operation, making it more likely the cancer will be removed completely.

If your cancer has spread to other parts of your body, hormone therapy for breast cancer may help control it.

An intravenous pyelogram (PIE-uh-loh-gram), also called an excretory urogram, is an X-ray exam of your urinary tract. An intravenous pyelogram lets your doctor view your kidneys, your bladder and the tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder (ureters). An intravenous pyelogram may be used to diagnose disorders that affect the urinary tract, such as kidney stones, bladder stones, enlarged prostate, kidney cysts or urinary tract tumors.

During an intravenous pyelogram, you'll have an X-ray dye (iodine contrast solution) injected into a vein in your arm. The dye flows into your kidneys, ureters and bladder, outlining each of these structures. X-ray pictures are taken at specific times during the exam, so your doctor can clearly see your urinary tract and assess how well it's working.

During a kidney biopsy — also called renal biopsy — your doctor removes a small piece of kidney tissue to examine under a microscope for signs of damage or disease.

Your doctor may recommend a kidney biopsy to diagnose a suspected kidney problem, determine the severity of kidney disease or monitor treatment for kidney disease. You also may need a kidney biopsy if you've had a kidney transplant that's not working properly.

Most often, a doctor performs a kidney biopsy by inserting a thin needle through the skin — a procedure known as percutaneous kidney biopsy. An imaging device helps the doctor guide the needle into the kidney to remove tissue.

A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure to place a kidney from a live or deceased donor into a person whose kidneys no longer function properly.

Your kidneys remove excess fluid and waste from your blood. When your kidneys lose their filtering ability, dangerous levels of fluid and waste accumulate in your body — a condition known as kidney failure or end-stage kidney disease. A kidney transplant is often the best treatment for kidney failure.

Only one donated kidney is needed to replace two failed kidneys, making living-donor kidney transplantation an option. If a compatible living donor isn't available for a kidney transplant, your name may be placed on a kidney transplant waiting list to receive a kidney from a deceased donor. The wait is usually a few years.

A urine microalbumin test is a test to detect very small levels of a blood protein (albumin) in your urine. A microalbumin test is used to detect early signs of kidney damage in people who have a risk of kidney disease.

Healthy kidneys filter waste from your blood and keep the healthy components, such as proteins like albumin. Kidney damage can cause proteins to leak through your kidneys and leave your body in your urine. Albumin (al-BYOO-min) is one of the first proteins to leak when kidneys become damaged.

Microalbumin tests are recommended for people with an increased risk of kidney disease, such as those with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

Nephrectomy (nuh-FREK-tuh-me) is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of a kidney:

  • Complete nephrectomy. During a complete (radical) nephrectomy, the surgeon removes the entire kidney.
  • Partial nephrectomy. In a partial nephrectomy, the surgeon removes diseased tissue from a kidney and leaves healthy tissue in place.

A nephrectomy is most often done to treat kidney cancer or to remove a seriously damaged or diseased kidney. The surgeon may perform the procedure through a single large incision in the abdomen or side (open nephrectomy) or through a series of small incisions in the abdomen (laparoscopic nephrectomy).

In a donor nephrectomy, the surgeon removes a healthy kidney for transplant into a person who needs a functioning kidney.

Open simple prostatectomy is a surgery used to relieve urinary symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate, a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Open simple prostatectomy is generally recommended for men who have severe urinary symptoms and very enlarged prostates. The surgery does not remove the entire prostate, as is done in a prostate cancer operation, but removes just the obstructive part of the prostate that blocks the flow of urine.

During open simple prostatectomy, the part of your prostate blocking urine flow is removed through a cut (incision) below your navel. It may be done by making several smaller incisions in the abdomen through a technique called laparoscopy or with the assistance of a robot to accomplish the same thing.