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The Kidney Diseases Dictionary: L - P


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lithotripsy (LITH-oh-TRIP-see):

a method of breaking up kidney stones by using shock waves or other means.

lupus nephritis (LOO-puhss) (neh-FRY-tiss):

inflammation of the kidneys caused by an autoimmune disease called systemic lupus erythematosus. The condition can cause hematuria and proteinuria, and it may progress to end-stage renal disease.


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see multicystic dysplastic kidney and kidney dysplasia.

medullary sponge kidney (MSK) (MED-yoo-LAIR-ee) (spuhnj) (KID-nee):

a birth defect in which cysts form in the central part of the kidney, causing a spongelike appearance and blocking the flow of urine through the tubules.

membrane (MEM-brane):

see semipermeable membrane.

membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN) (MEM-bray-no-pro-LIF-er-uh-tiv) (gloh-MEHR-yoo-loh-nef-RY-tis):

a disease in which inflammation leads to scarring in the glomeruli, causing proteinuria, hematuria, and sometimes chronic kidney disease or end-stage renal disease. MPGN occurs primarily in children and young adults.

membranous nephropathy (MEM-bruh-nuhss)(neh-FROP-uh-thee):

A disorder that hinders the kidneys' ability to filter wastes from the blood because of harmful deposits on the glomerular membrane. Some cases of membranous nephropathy develop after an autoimmune disease or malignancy, but most develop without a known cause.


see membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis.


see medullary sponge kidney.

multicystic dysplastic kidney (MCDK) (MUHL-tee-SISS-tik) (diss-PLASS-tik) (KID-nee):

see kidney dysplasia.


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nephrectomy (neh-FREK-toh-mee):

surgical removal of a kidney.

nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NEF-roh-JEN-ik) (DY-uh-BEE-teez) (in-SIH-puh-duhss):

constant thirst and frequent urination because the kidney tubules cannot respond to antidiuretic hormone. The result is an increase in urine formation and excessive urine flow.

nephrolithiasis (NEF-roh-lih-THY-uh-sis):

the condition of having kidney stones.

nephrologist (neh-FROL-uh-jist):

a doctor who treats people who have kidney problems or related conditions, such as hypertension.

nephrology (neh-FROL-uh-jee):

a branch of medicine concerned with diseases of the kidneys.

nephron (NEF-ron):

a tiny part of the kidneys. Each kidney is made up of about 1 million nephrons, which are the working units of the kidneys, removing wastes and extra fluids from the blood.

nephropathy (neh-FROP-uh-thee):

disease of the kidneys. See acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease.

nephrostomy (neh-FROST-uh-mee):

a catheter, or tube, inserted into the kidney through the skin to allow urine to drain directly from the kidney into an external bag.

nephrotic syndrome (nef-ROT-ik) (SIN-drohm):

a collection of symptoms that indicate kidney damage. Symptoms include high levels of protein in the urine, lack of protein in the blood, and high blood cholesterol.

nuclear scan (NOO-klee-ur) (skan):

a test of the structure, blood flow, and function of the kidneys. The doctor injects a mildly radioactive solution into a patient’s arm vein and uses x rays to monitor its progress through the kidneys.


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oxalate (OK-suh-layt):

a chemical that combines with calcium in urine to form the most common type of kidney stone, the calcium oxalate stone.


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pancreas (PAN-kree-uhss):

an organ that makes insulin and enzymes for digestion. The pancreas is located behind the lower part of the stomach and is about the size of a hand.

pelvis (PEL-viss):

the bowl-shaped bone that supports the spine and holds up the digestive, urinary, and reproductive organs. The legs connect to the body at the pelvis.

percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PUR-kyoo-TAY-nee-uhss) (NEF-roh-lih-THOT-uh-mee):

a method for removing kidney stones via surgery through a small incision in the back.

peritoneal cavity (PAIR-ih-toh-NEEuhl) (KAV-ih-tee):

the space inside the lower abdomen but outside the internal organs.

peritoneal dialysis (PAIR-ih-toh-NEE-uhl) (dy-AL-ih-siss):

see dialysis.

peritoneum (PAIR-ih-toh-NEE-uhm):

the semipermeable membrane lining the peritoneal cavity.

phosphate (FOSS-fayt):

phosphorus combined with oxygen.

phosphate binders (FOSS-fayt) (BYND-urz):

medications that bind phosphate in the digestive tract so that phosphate leaves the body in feces.

phosphorus (FOSS-for-uhss):

a mineral found in many foods, such as beans, nuts, milk, and meat. Too much phosphorus in the blood pulls calcium from the bones.

pituitary gland (pih-TOO-ih-TAIR-ee) (gland):

a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain that regulates the body’s balance of hormones.


see polycystic kidney disease.

polycystic kidney disease (PKD) (POL-ee-SISS-tik) (KID-nee) (dih-ZEEZ):

an inherited disorder characterized by many grapelike clusters of fluid-filled cysts that make both kidneys larger over time. These cysts take over and destroy working kidney tissue. PKD may cause chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease.

Drawing of a healthy kidney and a polycystic kidney. The healthy kidney on the lower right is smooth. The polycystic kidney on the upper left has many fluid-filled sacs, called cysts, on the surface. Labels point to the ureter and cysts on the polycystic kidney.
Polycystic kidney disease

potassium (poh-TASS-ee-uhm):

a mineral and electrolyte found in the body and in many foods.

protein (PROH-teen):

1. one of the three main nutrients in food. Foods that provide protein include meat, poultry, fish, cheese, milk, dairy products, eggs, and dried beans. 2. proteins are also used in the body for cell structure, fighting infection, and other functions. After the body’s cells use protein, it is broken down into waste products containing nitrogen that must be removed by the kidneys. The blood absorbs amino acids and uses them to build and mend cells.

Drawing of a bowl of dried beans, a fish on a plate, a carton of milk, a wedge of cheese, a hamburger sandwich, and two chicken drumsticks.
Sources of protein

proteinuria (proh-teen-YOO-ree-uh):

a condition in which the urine contains large amounts of protein, a sign that the kidneys are damaged. See albumin and urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio.

pyelonephritis (PY-uh-loh-neh-FRY-tiss):

an infection of the kidneys, usually caused by a germ that has traveled up through the urethra, bladder, and ureters from outside the body.

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Page last updated: September 9, 2011


The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

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