Sunday, January 24, 2010

Kidney Health

The latest installation of my Objective Structured Clinical Exams are now available. With practice, I felt much more comfortable and actually proved to be more efficient in my use of time. Although we will continue to have simulated patient encounters, our study of body systems is not yet complete and continues to flow...yes, cheesy pun intended.


It always seemed a bit confusing to have a urologist and a nephrologist until just recently. The former bases their practice on gross structures and specializes in surgical interventions while the later concentrates on the medical aspects of kidney disease. The smallest functioning unit of the kidney is called a nephron, to think there is a doctor who focuses a career around this structure is mind boggling.

When we started learning about the detailed pathology of nephrons and the kidneys it became clear why these specialized physicians exist. The kidneys are critical to our survival as they filter our blood. When malfunctioning, numerous other body systems are affected leading to a patient's compromised health status. The field of nephrology has not drawn great appeal from my side of the table, which is likely due to the fact that I have not yet come to a solid understanding of the material. Who knew such a small part could be so complex?

Board Prep Question of the Week

A 42 year old black woman presents to clinic complaining of swelling around both her eyes. The patient also adds that she recently has been only urinating twice a day which is much less than her usual. Further questioning reveals a few months history of subjective fevers, malaise, and non-focal arthralgias. Vital signs show a low-grade fever and a blood pressure of 155/90. Urine analysis reveals moderate proteinuria (3g/day) and RBC casts. Blood tests reveal a hemoglobin of 9.6g/dL, BUN of 29mg/dL, and a creatinine of 2mg/dL. What is the most likely cause of this patient’s symptoms?

A. Glomerulonephritis caused by anti-GBM antibodies
B. Congestive Heart Failure caused by uncontrolled hypertension
C. Glomerulonephritis caused by immunocomplex deposition
D. Glomerulonephritis caused by T-cell production of cytokines
E. Nephrotic syndrome caused by immunocomplex deposition

Answer & Explanation

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