Conditions & Treatments

Glomerulosclerosis

Glomerulosclerosis is the term used to describe scarring that occurs within the kidneys in the small balls of tiny blood vessels called the glomeruli.

Glomerulosclerosis

Illustration of the anatomy of the kidney
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What is glomerulosclerosis?

Glomerulosclerosis is the term used to describe scarring that occurs within the kidneys in the collections of tiny blood vessels called the glomeruli. The glomeruli assist the kidneys in filtering urine from the blood.

What causes glomerulosclerosis?

Glomerulosclerosis may develop in children or adults, and may result from different types of kidney conditions as well as diabetes.

What are the symptoms of glomerulosclerosis?

Early stages of glomerulosclerosis may not cause any symptoms. The most important warning sign of glomerular disease is proteinuria--large amounts of protein in the urine--that is usually discovered during a routine medical examination. However, the loss of large amounts of protein could cause swelling in the ankles or accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, puffy eyes, or generalized fluid retention.

How is glomerulosclerosis diagnosed?

Scarring disrupts the filtering process of the kidneys allowing protein to leak from the blood into the urine, where it can be detected.

Because glomerulosclerosis is just one of many possible causes of proteinuria, a kidney biopsy may be needed to determine if the cause is actually glomerulosclerosis. About 7 to 15 percent of people with proteinuria are diagnosed with glomerulosclerosis.

What is the treatment for glomerulosclerosis?

Specific treatment for glomerulosclerosis will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the disease

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

Scarred glomeruli cannot be repaired. The goal of treatment is to prevent further damage and to avoid dialysis. The best treatment for glomerulosclerosis depends on what caused the scarring. The cause is determined by a kidney biopsy. Treatment may include:

  • Immunosuppressant drugs.¬†Drugs used to block the body's immune system.

  • Dialysis. A medical treatment to remove wastes and additional fluid from the blood after the kidneys have stopped functioning.

  • Kidney transplantation. A procedure that places a healthy kidney from one person into a recipient's body.

  • Blood pressure medication

  • Diet modification

Treatment Programs


Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

Select a treatment program for more information:



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MassGeneral Hospital for Children

  • Pediatric Transplant Surgery
    The Pediatric Transplant Program at MassGeneral Hospital for Children is a major referral center for organ transplants for children.
Transplant Center

  • Kidney/Pancreas/Islet Transplant Programs
    The Kidney/Pancreas/Islet Transplant Programs at Massachusetts General Hospital provide new and unique treatment options for patients with end-stage renal disease (kidney failure) and/or type 1 diabetes.
Nephrology Division

  • Center for Renal Education
    The Center for Renal Education provides education about Chronic Kidney Disease and its management and individualized plans of care that include nutritional counseling, blood pressure management, medication review and supportive services.
  • Resistant Hypertension Program
    The Resistant Hypertension Program specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis and management of patients with resistant or difficult to treat hypertension.
  • Chronic Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) Program
    The Peritoneal Dialysis Unit provides training and long term management for the patient who selects peritoneal dialysis as home therapy. Staffed by experienced peritoneal dialysis nurses, manual and automated home peritoneal dialysis is available.
  • Renal Associates Clinic
    Renal Associates provides services in general nephrology including diabetes, water and electrolyte disorders, kidney disease in pregnancy, urinary tract infections, and primary and secondary diseases of the kidney.
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Clinic
    The Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital specializes in the diagnosis and management of cystic kidney diseases.

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