Kidney & Stone Treatment Terminology

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  • 0:00 Kidney Problems and Stones
  • 0:39 Treatments for the Blood
  • 2:21 Treatments for the Kidneys
  • 4:25 Treatments for the Ureters
  • 5:28 Treatments for Stones
  • 7:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

The kidneys are important for filtering the blood and keeping us healthy. This lesson is going to cover the treatments that are used to treat certain conditions of the kidneys and stones that develop in the urinary tract.

Kidney Problems and Stones

There are several conditions that may come up in the urinary tract. The vast majority of medical conditions seen in the urinary tract occur in the kidneys. A lot of the reason for this is that the kidneys are the organs that carry out the main function of the urinary system. That means there are a lot of things that can go wrong in the kidneys.

One thing that you may have heard of and be familiar with are kidney stones. These may wreak havoc on the person that has them. The one thing anyone with kidneys stones wants to know is, 'How do I get rid of them?' Well, there are treatments to resolve kidney stones, as well as other problems that may occur in the kidneys.

Treatments for the Blood

Let's think for a minute about the functions of the kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste out of the blood and maintaining blood's proper water-to-electrolyte balance. When the kidneys are not able to do this, then the wastes build up in the blood and the electrolytes and water get out of balance. There are some treatments that can make sure the blood doesn't become toxic to us.

One of the most basic treatments to get the blood as it should be is to take diuretics, also sometimes called water pills. These are taken in order to ensure a person isn't retaining too much water. These help to make sure the water doesn't build up to the point that it puts too much strain on the heart causing heart diseases like strokes or heart attacks.

The wastes that build up in the blood must be removed regularly. If the kidneys can't do it, then a patient is put on dialysis, or artificial removal of wastes, electrolytes, and excess water from the blood, to get the job done. Dialysis uses a permeable membrane and a solution to cause water and other substances to move out of the bloodstream and into the dialyzer, or artificial kidney. Dialysis is repeated in regular intervals depending on the needs of the patient. There are two main types of dialysis.

The first type is hemodialysis, in which an access point is made into the blood vessels to remove blood to pass through the dialyzer. This is usually done in the arm.

The other type is peritoneal dialysis, which is when dialysate in a catheter is inserted into the stomach area, causing wastes and excess water and electrolytes to move into the dialysate.

Treatments for the Kidneys

The kidneys may also need to be treated if they aren't functioning well, are diseased, or damaged.

Nephrolysis is a procedure that is done if the kidneys are bound by inflammatory proteins due to damage or injury. This process splits the kidneys away from inflammatory proteins.

If a patient is experiencing a floating kidney, called nephroptosis, then a nephropexy will be performed to surgically attach the kidney to the back of the abdominal wall. This will prevent the kidney from moving around as a person goes from sitting to standing.

The kidneys may become full of fluid if there is a stone or other obstruction in the urinary tract. Kidneys are only able to hold so much fluid, so the doctor will have to surgically create an opening from the kidneys to the skin to drain the kidneys in a procedure called nephrostomy. The nephrostomy is normally a temporary fix until the obstruction can be removed.

If a kidney stone gets lodged in the renal pelvis, then this can cause damage to the renal pelvis. When the damage is severe, surgical reconstruction of the renal pelvis may be necessary in order for the kidneys and ureters to function properly. Pyeloplasty is the term for this surgery.

Pyelotomy is the surgical incision into the renal pelvis. The incision may need to be made in order to open up a constricted area of the renal pelvis or for the removal of kidney stones that are stuck in the renal pelvis.

A patient that has end stage renal disease may require the implantation of a kidney from a donor. Renal transplantation is the procedure to put a donated kidney into the patient. Only one new kidney is implanted into the recipient, since one kidney is able to do about 70% or more of the work of two kidneys. An interesting thing to note about a kidney transplant is that the old kidneys are not removed unless they are cancerous. The new kidney is placed in the pelvic bone as an alternate site.

Treatments for the Ureters

Any time you see the suffix '-ectomy,' you should remember that we are dealing with the surgical removal of some structure from the body. Ureterectomy is the surgical removal of a portion or all of the ureter. This pretty much only occurs when a patient has a cancer that is located in the ureter and not in the bladder. The ureter is removed to keep it from spreading to the bladder. If the full ureter is removed, then a new one will be implanted.

The surgical repair of the ureter, called ureteroplasty, may be necessary in order to get the ureters functioning again. Ureteroplasty becomes necessary when damage or scar tissue forms a constriction in the ureters following cancer, injury, or endometriosis.

Stones in the ureters or disease processes may cause an opening, tear, or laceration in the ureters. When this happens, an ureterorrhaphy to suture the ureters may be required.

Treatments for Stones

We have now looked at treatments for the kidneys and ureters. Some of those treatments were due to stones that may have formed and damaged those structures. That's fine and all, but we still haven't answered the question from earlier. How do you get rid of those painful kidney stones?

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