Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis or FSGS is a disease that causes urinary loss of protein and eventual scarring of the glomerular filters of the kidney. The terms focal and segmental refers to the pattern of damage in the kidney as seen under a microscope. Focal means that some of the glomeruli are scarred while others are normal. Segmental means that only a part of an individual glomerulus is damaged.
What are the symptoms?
Many people with FSGS have no symptoms at all. The most common complaint is edema, or swelling, especially in the legs. Often patients find that their shoes no longer fit, or that they have suddenly put on weight. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is also a very common finding. The hypertension in people with FSGS can often be very difficult to treat.
FSGS can also cause abnormal results in two different routine laboratory tests ordered by your doctor.
The first is called the "Creatinine Renal Function Test." It is measured by taking blood samples, each person has a certain amount of substances called floating in his or her creatinine in the blood. Higher levels of creatinine alert doctors, kidneys can not filter as well as they should.
The second test is for protein in your urine. Urine normally contains only a very small amount of protein. It is just too big to pass through the filters. If a doctor finds too much protein in your urine, it usually means something is wrong with the filters. Some people with a large amount of protein in their urine say that their urine looks “foamy”, like bubbles built up in dishwater.
None of the above symptoms, or even all of them together, is specific for FSGS. If you or your doctor are concerned about FSGS, the only way to know for sure is to have a kidney biopsy.
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