Core Curriculum in Nephrology
Installments of the Core Curriculum in Nephrology provide trainees in nephrology with a strong knowledge base in core topics in the specialty by providing an overview of the topic and citing key references, including the foundational literature that led to current clinical approaches.
- The most common cause of kidney failure in the United States and across the world is diabetes mellitus (DM). Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in persons with diabetes, and chronic kidney disease (CKD) further increases overall CVD risk. It is important to individualize glycemic targets for patients to maintain glucose levels that will reduce the development and progression of complications while avoiding hypoglycemia. CKD alters the relationship of glucose levels to measures of long-term control, such as hemoglobin A1c.
- Assessment of glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is fundamental to clinical practice, public health, and research. The kidney has several critical functions; GFR is used as an overall assessment of these kidney functions. GFR is used to diagnose, stage, and manage chronic kidney disease (CKD); ascertain the prognosis for chronic kidney disease–related events and mortality; and determine drug dosages. GFR is the rate at which the glomerulus filters plasma to produce an ultrafiltrate and can be assessed from clearance or serum levels of filtration markers.
- Medications are an important part of the management of patients with kidney disease. When used appropriately, pharmacotherapy can slow disease progression and reduce morbidity and mortality. Unfortunately, reduced kidney function can significantly alter the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of many medications, putting patients at risk for drug toxicity if modifications to therapy are not appropriately managed. Adding complexity to the appropriateness of medication and dosage selection is the difficulty in estimating kidney function and the discordance between the Cockcroft-Gault–derived dosing cut points in most medication package inserts and the estimations of glomerular filtration rate by newer and generally more accurate guideline-recommended equations.
- Since maintenance hemodialysis (HD) first became available in the United States in 1962, there has been tremendous growth in the population of patients with kidney failure. HD has become a routine treatment carried out in outpatient clinics, hospitals, nursing facilities, and in patients’ homes. Although it is a complex procedure, HD is quite safe. Serious complications are uncommon due to the use of modern HD machines and water treatment systems as well as the development of strict protocols to monitor various aspects of the HD treatment.
- Kidney care in the United States is highly regulated, reflecting the dominance of Medicare as the primary payer for dialysis since inclusion of the end-stage renal disease (ESRD) benefit into payment policy in 1973. In the ensuing decades, bundled payments have been introduced for dialysis and quality programs have been adopted for both ESRD and nondialysis chronic kidney disease care. In this installment of the Core Curriculum in Nephrology, we review the key laws and regulations affecting kidney care in the United States, the Medicare ESRD program, quality assessment and pay-for-performance programs including the ESRD Quality Incentive Program, incentives and disincentives for specific kidney failure care modalities, and recent landmark initiatives to promote more coordinated kidney care across the spectrum of kidney disease.
- This Core Curriculum article models a person-centered approach to care for older adults with kidney disease. We provide background information on the principles of person-centered care and outline ways in which this approach contrasts with the more disease-based approaches that dominate current medical education and practice. Using hypothetical cases, we discuss 3 clinical scenarios that arise commonly when caring for older adults with kidney disease: (1) a moderate reduction in estimated glomerular filtration rate, (2) new-onset nephrotic-range proteinuria, and (3) the prospect of starting dialysis.
- As the incidence of chronic kidney disease increases and women pursue pregnancy at more advanced ages, the management of kidney disease in pregnancy has become increasingly relevant to the practicing nephrologist. Women with kidney disorders face several challenges in pregnancy due to increased physiologic demands on the kidney and risk for disease progression, the potential teratogenicity of medications, and the increased risk for complications such as preeclampsia and preterm delivery. Challenges posed by an underlying disease process in pregnancy, such as autoimmune disease or diabetes mellitus, necessitate an interdisciplinary team to ensure good maternal and fetal outcomes.