Chronic Kidney Disease

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Many factors can compromise the kidneys’ ability to perform the vital work of filtering our blood. Decreased kidney function may be the result of common conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, inherited illnesses such as polycystic kidney disease, or even inflammatory conditions of the kidney. 

At the University of Michigan, the General Nephrology Clinic is the gateway to initial evaluation and treatment for most patients with kidney disease. 

Patients whose kidney function is declining or is already seriously reduced may be referred to Michigan Medicine’s specialized, Multidisciplinary Chronic Kidney Disease Clinic, where two primary objectives are pursued:

  • Delaying chronic kidney disease progression: To the greatest extent possible, the team focuses on helping patients delay further progression of their disease, postponing the need for dialysis or kidney transplant as long as possible.
  • Preparing for the next chapter in kidney disease treatment: For patients approaching kidney failure (called end-stage renal disease or ESRD), the focus is on fully preparing them for the next chapter in their treatment, whether it be dialysis, kidney transplant, or for patients who elect not to pursue those options, conservative therapy and palliative care.

Multidisciplinary Care: Every Patient, Every Visit

Research shows that specialized, multidisciplinary care like that available through the Michigan Medicine Chronic Kidney Disease Clinic offers the best opportunities to delay disease progression and maximize quality of life for chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients.

Our approach is unique among nephrology practices. In addition to nephrologists with particular expertise in CKD, our team includes dedicated specialists who participate in every clinic appointment to manage:

  • Medication: Our pharmacist meets with each patient at every clinic visit to ensure appropriate dosing based on level of kidney function, oversee medication adherence and safeguard against potential drug interactions.
  • Nutrition:  Every clinic appointment also includes time with our dietician to review the patient’s nutritional plan, provide ongoing counseling, and strategize to troubleshoot issues.
  • Psychosocial and lifestyle issues: Low kidney function significantly impacts an individual’s quality of life. Our social work staff focuses on helping patients and families manage symptoms and maintain independence as they adjust to the challenges of living with CKD. They also provide essential counseling to patients transitioning to dialysis or transplant.

Both Standard and Innovative Treatment Options

The standard of care for chronic kidney disease focuses on using medications to manage co-existing illnesses that worsen kidney function like diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure).  For example, angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are frequently used to manage high blood pressure and reduce protein that is spilling into the urine.

The U-M CKD Clinic goes beyond this traditional approach, offering patients additional medical and nutritional interventions shown to be effective in clinical research, including strategies to manage the metabolic consequences of kidney disease, including anemia, metabolic acidosis, mineral and bone disease, and medical and lifestyle strategies to manage cardiovascular disease risk.

Patient Resources

Patient Care Guides

Patient Care Guides are a resource within the Michigan Medicine Patient Education Clearinghouse, which also includes videos, websites and handouts created or endorsed by Michigan Medicine clinicians.

Appointments and Referrals

Patients can schedule appointments by calling 734-647-9342. Physician referrals can be made by calling M-Line at 800-962-3555.