Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to the Kidney Center?

The Kidney Center is located in the West Complex, Fifth Floor, at the University of Virginia Medical Center main grounds in Charlottesville. Get Directions | See a Map

What should I bring to my appointment?

  • Your health insurance cards
  • A primary care physician referral number, if required by your managed care insurance plan
  • Your co-payment, if required by your insurance or managed care plan
  • If you are referred by your primary care physician or by another specialist, bring copies of any applicable lab reports, medications and medical summaries, and results of your most recent diagnostic tests
  • Your physician's name, address and phone number. This will help the Nephrologist to communicate his/her findings and coordinate your care with your referring physician.

What is end-stage renal disease (ESRD)?

ESRD is a very serious and life-threatening disease in which kidneys fail and the body retains fluid and harmful wastes build up. A person with ESRD needs treatment to replace the work of the failed kidneys — dialysis, or a kidney transplant. More information »

What is chronic kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease is a slow and progressive deterioration of kidney function. It is diagnosed when there is kidney damage or when the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is less than 90 mL/min/1.73 m2 for more than 3 months. Kidney failure is diagnosed when the GFR level decreases to less than 15 mL/min/1.73 m2 (CKD stage 5) and renal replacement therapy is necessary. More information »

What is dialysis?

Dialysis is a procedure for cleansing the blood using membranes to filter out waste elements. Kidney dialysis is used to substitute for the function of damaged or absent kidneys.

What is hemodialysis?

Hemodialysis is a method for providing the function of the kidneys by circulating blood through tubes made of semipermeable membranes. These dialyzing tubes are continually bathed by solutions that selectively remove unwanted material. This technique is lifesaving in patients in whom one or both kidneys are defective or absent. A machine is used to clean wastes from the blood after the kidneys have failed. The blood travels through tubes to a dialyzer, a machine that removes wastes and extra fluid. The cleaned blood then goes back into the body. More information »

What is peritoneal dialysis?

Peritoneal dialysis is a procedure that introduces dialysate into the abdominal cavity to remove waste products through the peritoneum (a membrane which surrounds the intestines and other organs in the abdominal cavity). It functions in a manner similar to that of the artificial semi permeable membrane in the hemodialysis machine. Three forms of peritoneal dialysis are continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis, continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis, and intermittent peritoneal dialysis.

What is nocturnal dialysis?

Nocturnal hemodialysis is designed to shorten the time between dialysis sessions and lengthen the time of dialysis so that there is less accumulated waste and fluid to remove over a longer period of time. This leads to a gentler treatment which is better tolerated by most patients. Nocturnal hemodialysis is performed by the patient at home after sufficient training and certification. Not all patients are good candidates for nocturnal hemodialysis as it takes motivation to care for oneself and attention to detail and procedure to perform a safe and effective dialysis treatment.

What is therapeutic plasmapheresis?

Plasmapheresis is the process of separating certain cells from the plasma in the blood by a machine. Only the cells are returned to the person. Plasmapheresis can be used to remove excess antibodies from the blood. Therapeutic plasmapheresis is applied to some patients with renal failure to attempt removal of intravascular macroglobulins or immune complexes by this mechanism.