what is chronic kidney disease

What is chronic kidney disease (CKD)?

Chronic kidney disease is the final common pathway in many different diseases that affect the kidney. Common causes include inflammations of the glomeruli (glomerulonephritis), inherited conditions such as polycystic kidney disease as well as chronic high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes mellitus.1

Chronic kidney disease is characterised by a progressive loss of renal function. Depending on the activity of the underlying disease process, renal function may be lost slowly or rapidly. The end stage of kidney failure may develop over many years or within only a few months.2

CKD stages
Stages of chronic kidney disease according to KDIGO Guidelines[2,3]

Stages of chronic kidney disease

Defined by the level of the kidney function (glomerular filtration rate, GFR), there are five stages of chronic kidney disease (according to KDIGO Guidelines2). Stage 1 (GFR < 90 ml/min/1.73 m2) is the earliest, while stage 5 (GFR < 15 ml/min/1.73 m2) represents overt kidney failure. This stage is also called end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). At this point, less than 15 % of the kidney tissue is working and dialysis is necessary for survival.2,3


  1. National Kidney Foundation www.kidney.org/atoz/content/about-chronic-kidney-disease (accessed 13.02.2019)
  2. Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) CKD Work Group (2013): KDIGO 2012 Clinical Practice Guideline for the Evaluation and Management of Chronic Kidney Disease. In: Kidney Int Suppl 3, S. 1–150.)
  3. National Kidney Foundation www.kidney.org/atoz/content/gfr (accessed 15.2.19)