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Uremia Differential Diagnoses

  • Author: A Brent Alper, Jr, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FACP, FASN  more...
Updated: Feb 05, 2016

Diagnostic Considerations

Undertake an evaluation for the cause of renal disease if the etiology is not clear. Slowly deteriorating renal function and uremia may be observed in a patient who has bilateral renal artery stenosis who was placed on angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). Renal failure secondary to renal artery stenosis may be a reversible cause of renal failure.

Other conditions to consider in the differential diagnosis of uremia include the following:

  • Obstruction due to an enlarged prostate may cause uremia and renal failure and may be easily treatable with Foley catheter placement.
  • Rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis - If this is not diagnosed early in its course, irreversible renal failure occurs, resulting in the need for lifelong dialysis
  • Hyperchloremic acidosis
  • Hyperkalemia
  • Hypermagnesemia
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Hyperphosphatemia
  • Hypertension
  • Malignant hypertension
  • Hypoalbuminemia
  • Hypocalcemia
  • Immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Metabolic acidosis
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Pleural effusion

Differential Diagnoses

Contributor Information and Disclosures

A Brent Alper, Jr, MD, MPH Associate Professor of Medicine, Section of Nephrology and Hypertension, Department of Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine

A Brent Alper, Jr, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Physicians, American Society of Hypertension, American Society of Nephrology, National Kidney Foundation, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Bessie A Young, MD, MPH Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, University of Washington School of Medicine; Core Investigator, Seattle Epidemiologic Research and Information Center

Bessie A Young, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Diabetes Association, International Society of Nephrology, National Kidney Foundation, American Society of Nephrology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Rajesh G Shenava, MD Former Assistant Professor of Medicine, Section of Nephrology and Hypertension, Department of Internal Medicine, Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans

Rajesh G Shenava, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Society of Nephrology, National Kidney Foundation, Renal Physicians Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Vecihi Batuman, MD, FACP, FASN Huberwald Professor of Medicine, Section of Nephrology-Hypertension, Tulane University School of Medicine; Chief, Renal Section, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System

Vecihi Batuman, MD, FACP, FASN is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Society of Hypertension, American Society of Nephrology, International Society of Nephrology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Eleanor Lederer, MD Professor of Medicine, Chief, Nephrology Division, Director, Nephrology Training Program, Director, Metabolic Stone Clinic, Kidney Disease Program, University of Louisville School of Medicine; Consulting Staff, Louisville Veterans Affairs Hospital

Eleanor Lederer, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Federation for Medical Research, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, American Society of Nephrology, American Society of Transplantation, International Society of Nephrology, Kentucky Medical Association, National Kidney Foundation, and Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Dept of Veterans Affairs Grant/research funds Research

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Medscape Salary Employment

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