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Causes of Kidney Failure


Updated June 20, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Kidney Stones and Kidney Failure
Image of Kidney Stones, Cause of Kidney Failure

Kidney Stone

Photo: National Institutes of Health

Kidney Stones and Kidney Blockages

Kidney stones, problems with the ureters (the tubes that allow urine to flow out of the kidney and into the bladder), and other conditions can prevent urine from draining from the kidneys. Typically, the problem begins in the kidney, but in some rare cases, the bladder cannot empty and urine will back up into the ureters, then into the kidneys.

Once the blockage is severe, the kidney becomes damaged as urine continues to be produced, but cannot flow out of the kidney. This condition can be extremely painful and may result in surgery to release the build-up of urine.

If the problem is left untreated, the kidney may no longer function and may even need to be surgically removed. In most cases, the undamaged kidney will be able to compensate; however, if the other kidney is also damaged, dialysis or a kidney transplant may be necessary.

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