Specialists at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone offer treatments in the hospital for children with severe glomerulonephritis, which causes inflammation in the kidneys’ filtering structures. These therapies are often recommended to prevent serious kidney damage in children with acute, or sudden, glomerulonephritis or for children with ongoing inflammation who have developed chronic kidney disease.
Plasmapheresis, or plasma exchange, is a procedure used to remove autoantibodies—immune system proteins that attack tissues in the body—from the blood. In some instances, doctors may recommend this treatment if your child has severe glomerulonephritis due to an autoimmune condition that is not responding well to medications that suppress the immune system.
In this painless procedure, a long, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into a vein in your child’s leg or groin. The catheter allows your child’s blood to flow into a machine that separates the plasma, the yellow fluid in which blood cells are suspended, from the blood cells.
Purified plasma, extracted from donated blood, is delivered through a second catheter that is placed in your child’s arm. This procedure reduces the number of autoantibodies in your child’s blood.
Plasmapheresis takes about an hour to perform and is given daily for up to two weeks.
If your child develops sudden kidney failure as a result of acute glomerulonephritis, doctors may recommend hemodialysis, in which a machine performs functions similar to those of the kidneys. This technique cleans the blood by removing excess fluid and waste, and lowers blood pressure.
To perform hemodialysis, doctors insert a catheter into one of your child’s veins, usually in the groin, neck, or upper part of the chest. The catheter allows the child’s blood to flow into an artificial kidney machine, called a dialyzer, which cleans and treats the blood. The filtered blood is returned to the body through another catheter.
Hemodialysis is painless and can be performed continuously in the hospital until your child’s kidneys can filter blood effectively on their own. Doctors stop hemodialysis after your child’s condition improves and kidney function is restored.
Nephrologists may recommend a kidney transplant if your child develops irreversible kidney damage due to acute or chronic glomerulonephritis. Often, glomerulonephritis does not return after a kidney transplant.
Our doctors can discuss whether this treatment may benefit your child and can refer you to experts at our Transplant Institute if you are interested in learning more about the procedure.
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