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Proximal renal tubular acidosis

Definition

Proximal renal tubular acidosis is a disease that occurs when the kidneys don't properly remove acids from the blood into the urine. As a result, too much acid remains in the blood (called acidosis).

Alternative Names

Renal tubular acidosis - proximal; Type II RTA; RTA - proximal; Renal tubular acidosis type II

Causes

When the body performs its normal functions, it produces acid. If this acid is not removed or neutralized, the blood will become too acidic. This can lead to electrolyte imbalances in the blood. It can also cause problems with normal function of some cells.

The kidneys help control the body's acid level by removing acid from the blood and excreting it into the urine. Acidic substances in the body are neutralized by alkaline substances, mainly bicarbonate.

Proximal renal tubular acidosis (Type II RTA) occurs when bicarbonate is not properly reabsorbed by the kidney's filtering system.

Type II RTA is less common than Type I RTA. Type II most often occurs during infancy and may go away by itself.

Causes of type II RTA include:

Symptoms

Symptoms of distal renal tubular acidosis include any of the following:

Other symptoms can include:

Exams and Tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about the symptoms.

Tests that may be ordered include:

Other tests that may be done include:

Treatment

The goal is to restore normal acid level and electrolyte balance in the body. This will help correct bone disorders and reduce the risk of osteomalacia and osteopenia in adults.

Some adults may need no treatment. All children need alkaline medicine such as potassium citrate and sodium bicarbonate. This is medicine that helps correct the acidic condition of the body. The medicine helps prevent bone disease caused by too much acid, such as rickets, and to allow normal growth.

The underlying cause of proximal renal tubular necrosis should be corrected if it can be found.

Vitamin D and calcium supplements may be needed to help reduce skeletal deformities resulting from osteomalacia or rickets.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Although the underlying cause of proximal renal tubular acidosis may go away by itself, the effects and complications can be permanent or life-threatening. Treatment is usually successful.

Possible Complications

Untreated, distal renal tubular acidosis can lead to any of the following conditions:

  • Electrolyte imbalances, such as hypokalemia
  • Osteomalacia
  • Rickets

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of proximal renal tubular acidosis.

Get medical help right away if any of the following emergency symptoms develop:

Prevention

Most of the disorders that cause proximal renal tubular acidosis are not preventable.

References

DuBose TD Jr. Disorders of acid-base balance. In: Taal MW, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, et al., eds. Brenner and Rector’s The Kidney. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 16.

Seifter JL. Acid-base disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 120.

Bakkalogul SA, Schaefer F. Diseases of the kidney and urinary tract in children. In: Taal MW, Chertow GM, Marsden PA, et al., eds. Brenner and Rector's The Kidney. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 75.


Review Date: 11/7/2013
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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