Sushil Singh, a 53-year-old man, was shocked when he discovered that he had a kidney disorder despite receiving regular Kidney Function Tests (KFT) that showed normal figures. But KFT and Liver Function Test (LFT) alone are insufficient to establish healthy kidney and liver function, according to Dr. Alka Bhasin, Senior Director of Nephrology & Kidney Transplant at Max Smart Super Speciality Hospital, Saket. Additional investigations are required, such as urine analysis, microscopy, ultrasound abdomen, INR, ammonia level, fibroscan of liver.
Dr. Anup Gulati, Director of Urology and Kidney Transplant at Fortis Escorts Faridabad, suggests that these tests are just preliminary, and further diagnostic tests are necessary to find out the precise cause of deranged kidney and liver function. Dr. Bhupendra Gandhi, Mentor & Consultant of Renal Sciences at HN Reliance Hospital, adds that while these tests are reasonably good, they may not help in estimating kidney disease at an early stage.
So, what is the most accurate way to judge the health of kidneys? According to Dr. Alka, it is the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR), which is a calculation based on the patient’s age, weight, serum creatinine value, and gender. The eGFR reflects the kidney’s filtering capacity as a percentage.
One in ten people worldwide is estimated to have chronic kidney disease, which is approximately 850 million individuals. In India, the dialysis population is estimated to grow at a rate of 10-20% per annum.
But should you get regular blood tests? It is advised to get tested once a year and visit the doctor to discuss the reports, says Dr. Bhupendra. Although a normal healthy person does not require very frequent tests, those above the age of 30 and 40 with a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney problems can get the tests done more frequently. Symptoms such as passing less urine or too much urine, experiencing burning while urinating, or frequently getting up at night for urine are early signs of kidney involvement.
Random tests can also be of help in screening for silent disorders such as kidney and liver disease, according to Dr. Alka. With limited access to physicians in this vast country, laboratory tests are a major contribution in establishing one’s health profile.
It is important to note that one in ten people has a kidney problem, and the commonest cause of kidney disease is high blood pressure and diabetes. Therefore, it is necessary to detect these conditions early to prevent other associated problems such as heart problems or stroke. When detected, you can prevent or postpone the inevitable by many years, concludes Dr. Bhupendra.
In summary, while KFT and LFT are important as preliminary investigations, additional investigations, such as ultrasound of the whole abdomen and urine test, are required to find the precise cause of deranged kidney and liver functions. Regular blood tests, especially for those above 30 or 40 with a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney problems, can be informative in screening for silent disorders such as kidney and liver disease. The most accurate way to judge the health of kidneys is through eGFR. Early detection of high blood pressure and diabetes is key to preventing associated problems.