Kidney disease: key points

  • Kidney disease is a term used to include any abnormality of the kidneys. There are many diseases which can affect the kidneys and can be described as acute kidney injury (AKI) or chronic kidney disease (CKD).
  • AKI is a sudden and recent reduction in a person's kidney function which has a number of possible causes.
  • CKD is used to cover all levels of kidney impairment, ranging from a small decline in kidney performance that causes no symptoms and may have no effect on someone's long term health, to a life-threatening condition that requires regular dialysis or a kidney transplant and has a significant impact on daily life.
  • Not all patients with advanced kidney disease opt for dialysis or transplantation - some may choose conservative kidney management, a term which covers management of CKD without dialysis or transplantation.
  • The main risk factors for CKD include diabetes, high blood pressure, acute kidney injury and cardiovascular disease.
  • Based on the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) data, there were 179,850 patients (18 years or older) recorded with more advanced (stage 3 to 5) CKD in 2015/16 in Scotland, a crude prevalence rate of 3.19 per 100 registered population.
  • Renal replacement therapy (RRT) includes kidney transplant, haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. In 2015, 115 patients per million population started RRT for established renal failure. This is an increased incidence compared with recent years and is the highest level since 2006.
  • On 31 December 2015 there were 4,919 patients receiving RRT. Of these patients, 56% had a functioning kidney transplant, 39% were being treated with haemodialysis and 4% with peritoneal dialysis.
  • There was a significant trend of improving survival for patients starting RRT in the 10 years 2006 - 2015. However, the life expectancy of patients receiving RRT remains shorter than that of the general population.

Lynn Robertson and Professor Corri Black, University of Aberdeen, drafted these pages on kidney disease. We also thank Dr Simon Sawhney, University of Aberdeen and Dr Wendy Metcalfe, Scottish Renal Registry, for helpful comments.

Section updates:

  • This section was last updated in September 2017.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by September 2018.