Glossary of Kidney Terminology

The degree and speed at which a drug enters the bloodstream from the small intestine.

Acute Tubular Necrosis (ATN)
Reversible kidney damage resulting in delayed kidney function. Among other factors, it may be caused by quality of donor organ, time of organ storage before transplantation, or medications to prevent rejection.

Alkaline Phosphatase
An enzyme produced by liver (and other) cells; elevated blood levels of this substance may indicate abnormal function of the liver or other organs.

Allograft (allogenetic graft or homograft)
A graft between two individuals who are of the same species (eg. human) but have genetic differences.

Low red blood cell count.

A medication that reduces pain by dulling sensation.

A drug that aids in protecting the digestive system and relieves heartburn and digestive discomfort.

A protein produced by the body to eliminate foreign substances, such as bacteria.

A foreign molecule or substance, such as a transplant, that triggers an immune response. This response may be the production of antibodies, which, in turn, try to inactivate or destroy the antigen (transplanted organ).

Arteriogram (angiogram)
An x-ray of the arteries taken with the aid of a dye.

A buildup of fats in the lining of the arteries that may interfere with the flow of blood.

B Cell
A specialized white blood cell responsible for the body's immunity. B cells play a central role in antibody production.

Small organisms (germs) that can cause disease.

A measure of how much of an administered drug is absorbed into the bloodstream, actually reaching the intended site of action in the body. For example, medicine is absorbed from the GI tract, travels through the bloodstream, and reaches the organ tissues, where it works to fight infection, prevent rejection, etc.

The removal and examination of tissue for diagnosis.

The part of the urinary tract that receives urine from the kidneys and stores it until urination.

Blood Urea Nitrogen
A byproduct of protein breakdown in the body.

BUN stands for blood urea nitrogen, a waste product normally excreted by the kidney. Your BUN value represents how well the kidneys function.

Cadaveric Donor
An individual who has recently died of causes that do not affect the function of an organ to be transplanted. Either the person or the person's family has generously offered organs and/or tissues for transplantation.

An immunosuppressive drug used with other immunosuppressants to prevent the rejection of the transplanted organ. Also known by its chemical name, myophenolate mofetil.

A category of immunosuppressive medications that includes prednisone and prednislone.

A substance found in blood and urine; it results from normal body chemical reactions; high blood creatinine levels are a sign of depressed kidney function.

A test in which donor and recipient blood samples are mixed together. A "positive" crossmatch shows the donor and recipient are incompatible. A "negative" crossmatch shows there is no reaction between the donor and the recipient. This means that the donor and recipient are compatible and the transplant may proceed.

The immunosuppressive ingredient in Neoral® (cyclosporine capsules and oral solution for microemulsion) and Sandimmune® (cyclosporine), an earlier form of cyclosporine. Neoral® and Sandimmune are not bioequivalent and cannot be used interchangeably without physician supervision.

CMV (Cytomegalovirus)
A virus infection that is very common in transplant recipients; it can affect the lungs and other organs as well; a member of the family of herpes viruses.

To change a harmful substance into a safer form.

A condition in which an insufficient amount of insulin is produced by the pancreas, resulting in high levels of glucose in the blood.

The process of cleansing and achieving chemical balance in the blood of patients whose kidneys have failed. Dialysis may refer to hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis (PD).

Excess fluid in body tissues; swelling of the ankles, for example, is a sign of edema.

Generally refers to the dissolved form of a mineral such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, chlorine, etc.

A protein made in the body and capable of changing a substance from one form to another.

A physician who specializes in the care of the digestive tract.

A type of sugar found in the blood.

An organ or tissue that is transplanted.

Graft Survival
When a transplanted tissue or organ is accepted by the body and functions properly. The potential for graft survival is increased when the recipient and donor are closely matched, and when immunosuppressive therapy is used.

Helper T Cell
The specialized white blood cell that tells other parts of the immune system to combat infection or foreign material.

A measure of the red-blood-cell content of blood.

A method of dialysis in which blood is purified by circulating through an apparatus outside the body (sometimes called an "artificial kidney”).

An excessive increase in hair growth - especially male-pattern hair growth in a female. Hirsutism is a common side effect of corticosteroids and can also occur with cyclosporine therapy, but is easily treated with depilatory creams or other methods of hair removal.

The examination of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) in a patient, often referred to as "tissue typing" or "genetic matching". Tissue typing is routinely performed for all donors and recipients in kidney and pancreas transplantation to help match the donor with the most suitable recipients. This helps to decrease the likelihood of "rejecting" the transplanted organ.

HLA (human leukocyte antigens) system
Genetically determined series of antigens that are present on human white blood cells (leukocytes) and tissues

High blood pressure.

Immune Response
Any defensive reaction to foreign material by the immune system.

Immune System
The system that protects the body from invasion by foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses, and from cancer cells.

A condition of being able to resist a particular infectious disease.

Prevention or suppression of immune response. Transplant patients receive immunosuppressive drugs in order to prevent rejection.

Immunosuppressive Agents
Medications given to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ.

An immunosuppressive drug used with other immunosuppressive drugs to help prevent the rejection of a transplanted organ. Also known by its chemical name, azathioprine.

No likeness or similarity between donor or recipient blood type or organs.

Indiana Organ Procurement Organization (IOPO)
IOPO serves as the integral link between the potential donor and recipient and is accountable for the retrieval, preservation and transportation of organs for transplantation. IOPO is an UNOS members as are all Organ Procurement Organizations.

IV or Intravenous
Refers to giving medicines or fluids directly through a vein.

IV Catheter
A small needle with a hollow tube inserted into a vein and used to give medicines or fluids.

One of the two kidney-bean-shaped organs located on both sides of the spine, just above the waist. They rid the body of waste materials and maintain fluid balance through the production of urine.

Living-Related Donor (LRD)
A blood relative who donates an organ.

The compatibility between recipient and donor. In general, the more closely the donor and recipient "match", the greater the potential for a successful transplant.

A suspension or mixture of tiny droplets of one liquid in a second liquid, such as the smooth mixture that is formed when Neoral® (cyclosporine capsules and oral solution for microemulsion) combines with fluids in the digestive system.

A physician who studies the kidney and treats kidney disease.

A type of white blood cell.

Failure to follow the instructions of one's health care providers, such as not taking medicine as prescribed or not showing up for clinic visits.

By mouth.

Organ Preservation
Between organ procurement and transplant, organs require special methods of preservation to keep them viable. The length of time that organs and tissues can be kept outside the body varies, depending on the organ, the preservation fluid and the temperature.

Organ Rejection
An attempt by the immune system to reject or destroy what it recognizes to be a "foreign" presence.

Panel Reactive Antibody (PRA)
A way of measuring immune system activity within the body. PRA is higher when more antibodies are being made.

Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia (PCP)
A type of pneumonia seen primarily in patients whose immune systems are suppressed.

Peritoneal Dialysis
A method of purifying the blood by flushing the abdominal cavity with a dilute salt solution.

A small blood cell needed for normal blood clotting.

A mineral essential for body function.

A manufactured steroid hormone taken by most transplant recipients to help prevent rejections medication that helps prevent disease.

Rapamycin (Rapamune®)
Rapamycin belongs to a group of medicines known as immunosuppressive agents. It is used to lower the body's natural immunity in patients who receive kidney transplants. When a patient receives an organ transplant, the body's white blood cells will try to get rid of (reject) the transplanted organ. Rapamycin works by preventing the white blood cells from getting rid of the transplanted organ.

An immune response against grafted tissue, which, if not successfully treated, results in failure of the graft to survive.

Refers to the kidney.

Due to organ rejection or transplant failure, some patients need another transplant and return to the waiting list. Reducing the number of retransplants is critical when examining ways to maximize a limited supply of donor organs.

Sandimmune® (cyclosporin)
An earlier formulation of cyclosporine. An immunosuppressive drug used with other immunosuppressive drugs, that acts specifically to inhibit helper T cells, thereby helping prevent the rejection of a transplanted organ. Sandimmune and Neoral are not bioequivalent and cannot be used interchangeably without physician supervision.

Being immunized, or able to mount an immune response, against an antigen by previous exposure to that antigen.

A component of table salt (sodium chloride); an electrolyte that is the main salt in blood.

Indicates the degree of medical urgency for patients awaiting transplants.

Stricture or Stenosis
A narrowing of passage in the body.

Survival Rates
Survival rates indicate how many patients or grafts (transplanted organs) are alive/functioning at a set time post-transplant. Survival rates are often given at one, three and five years. Policy modifications are never made without examining their impact on transplant survival rates. Survival rates improve with technological and scientific advances. Developing policies that reflect and respond to these advances in transplantation will also improve survival rates.

The top of the two blood pressure numbers, which measures the maximum blood pressure reached as blood is pumped out of the heart chambers.

A form of fat that the body makes from sugar, alcohol, and excess calories.

T Cells
A white blood cell responsible for the body's immunity. T cells can destroy cells infected by viruses, graft cells, and other altered cells.

Tissue Typing
A blood test (performed prior to transplantation) to evaluate the closeness of tissue match between donor's organ and recipient's HLA antigens.

A probe that uses high-frequency sound waves that pass into the body, are reflected back, to build an image of one's internal organs that is shown on a monitor.

A tube that drains urine from the bladder to the outside.

Tubes that drain urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
An infection of one or more parts of the urinary tract.

A very small agent (germ) that causes infection.

Waiting List
After evaluation by the transplant physician, a patient is added to the national waiting list by the transplant center. Lists are specific to both geographic area and organ type: heart, lung, kidney, liver, pancreas, intestine, heart-lung, kidney-pancreas. Each time a donor organ becomes available, the UNOS computer generates a list of potential recipients based on factors that include genetic similarity, organ size, medical urgency and time on the waiting list. Through this process, a "new" list is generated each time an organ becomes available.

White Blood Cells
Cells in the blood that fight infection; part of the immune system.