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What is Wegener's disease and kidney failure?

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Quick Answer

Wegener's granulomatosis is a condition that causes inflammation of the blood vessels, and if left untreated, can cause kidney failure due to the reduction in blood supply. With early diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis for patients is good; however, untreated Wegener's disease leads to death within a few months, according to MedlinePlus.

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Full Answer

Mayo Clinic notes that the initial stages of Wegener's disease affect the respiratory tract. However, unlike a respiratory infection, the condition does not respond to normal medications and the condition grows worse quickly. To make the diagnosis, the doctor orders blood tests. Doctors confirm suspected cases using biopsies of affected tissues.

Mayo Clinic recommends treatment using several different drugs, including corticosteroids, immune system suppressants and biologic therapy. If patients do not respond to these medications, the doctor sometimes recommends the use of experimental drugs. Once the patient recovers from Wegener's disease, he needs an additional two years of maintenance treatment. In patients where the disease has progressed to the serious stage, plasma exchange causes the body to produce new blood plasma to help heal the kidneys. With severe kidney damage, patients require transplants.

MedlinePlus reports that the symptoms return in about half the patients after treatment. Most of the time, the return of Wegener's disease occurs within two years of stopping maintenance therapy.

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