What is Renal Parenchymal Disease? Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Also known as: kidney parenchymal disease, renal parenchyma of the kidney, bilateral renal parenchyma diseases.

What are renal parenchyma diseases?

To understand renal parenchyma diseases, it first helps to understand the kidneys and how they function in the body. These two bean-shaped organs are part of the body’s urinary system and reside in the back area of the abdomen. They serve a very important role, filtering blood, removing waste (which leaves the body as urine), and putting the other useful fluid back into circulation in the body.

The renal parenchyma is the functional part of the kidney that includes the renal cortex (the outermost part of the kidney) and the renal medulla.

  • The renal cortex contains approximately 1 million nephrons (these have glomeruli which are the primary filterer of blood passing through the kidney, and renal tubules which modify the fluid to produce the appropriate amount/content of urine).
  • The renal medulla consists primarily of tubules/ducts which are the beginning of the collecting system that allows the urine to flow onwards to being excreted.

Renal parenchyma disease describes medical conditions which damage these parts of the kidney. These diseases may be congenital, hereditary or acquired.

What causes renal parenchyma diseases?

Causes vary and include:

What are the signs/symptoms of renal parenchyma diseases?

As the kidneys regulate the amount of fluid in the body and adjust the salts in the blood to reflect metabolic activity, (plus other hormonal functions), common signs include:

Common Signs of Renal Parenchymal Diseases

Common Symptoms of Renal Parenchymal Diseases

  • Loss of appetite
  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Frequent night urination
  • Dizziness

How are renal parenchyma diseases diagnosed?

The primary method for diagnosing renal diseases is with lab tests of the blood and urine. Blood or protein in the urine may indicate problems with the kidneys. Blood tests may have abnormal levels of creatinine or BUN and have an atypical calculated glomerular filtration rate (GFR).

Imaging technologies such as ultrasound, MRI, or CT scans can also be used to evaluate the kidneys and their blood supply and help confirm a diagnosis of a renal parenchyma disease.

What are renal parenchyma disease care options?

Treatments depends on the underlying cause and controlling that, plus alleviating symptoms and preventing complications are the focus of management.

Medications, fluid management, attention to calorie intake, dietary changes, dialysis and possibly kidney transplantation are all frequently utilized.

How to Prevent Renal Parenchyma Diseases

Not all causes of renal parenchyma disease are preventable, but there are things you can do to keep your kidneys healthy as you age. Similar steps can also preserve kidney health and prevent or delay complications if you already have a renal disease. These steps include:

  • Avoiding smoking and tobacco products
  • Staying hydrated
  • Avoiding excess salt
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Keeping blood pressure under control
  • Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels if you have diabetes
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding excess use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: February 07, 2024 05:33 PM


The Division of Nephrology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital treats kidney disorders and provides comprehensive evaluation of renal functions, including kidney biopsies.

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