Tubular Diseases

Also known as: renal tubular disease, renal tubular acidosis (RTA).

What are tubular diseases?

Tubular diseases are disorders of the tubules, an essential part of the nephron, (there are approximately 1 million of these kidney units) which filters the body’s blood stream.

The renal tubules are a series of ducts (called the proximal convoluted tubule, the loop of Henle, the distal convoluted duct, and collecting ducts) which modify/reabsorb the filtered fluid to ensure the correct balance of water and salts and acidity that the body requires to keep blood levels stable plus aid in the removal of waste products produced during cell metabolism.

Renal tubular disorders are a diverse group of conditions, both generalized and specific that develop when the tubules don’t work properly resulting in the body’s blood water, salts, and level of acidity, singly or together, becoming abnormal. This results in a variety of problems.

What causes tubular diseases?

Many of the presentations of tubular disorders are genetic and are inherited from one or both parents. Other causes include certain medications (often to treat cancer or mood disorders), and some autoimmune conditions.

What are the symptoms of tubular diseases?

Depending on which specific aspect of which particular part of the tubule/function is affected, disorders result in varied manifestations. Many have no symptoms until they have been present for a long time.

Nonspecific symptoms include:

  • failure to thrive
  • poor growth
  • increased urine output
  • increased thirst
  • thinning of bones resistant to treatment
  • kidney stones
  • unexplained high blood pressure
  • low blood potassium levels
  • acidic blood
  • other blood salt abnormalities.

What are tubular disease care options?

Treatments include medications to correct water, salts and acid levels and to prevent complications like kidney stones, as well as specialized diets.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: August 03, 2022 03:44 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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