When Surgery Becomes Necessary for Lupus Patients

Lupus and Surgery: Kidney Transplant

Although many people with lupus have some kidney involvement, most respond to medical treatment and very few go on to the point of kidney failure. But when kidney failure does occur, surgery may become necessary.

The filtering units of the kidneys, called the glomeruli, work to remove waste from the blood. But in the most severe form of kidney disease, more than 90 percent of the glomeruli can become damaged. When the kidneys fail, the only treatment options are dialysis or a kidney transplant. Studies show that men and African-Americans are at greater risk than other patients for severe kidney involvement with lupus.

The good news: Overall, kidney transplants are very successful in people with lupus. Medications used to prevent the body from rejecting a new kidney are often the same medications used to treat lupus. The risk of rejection of the transplanted kidney in people with lupus tends to be no worse than in other people who get kidney transplants. The risk that lupus will affect the new kidney is also low.

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