Children's Hospital Colorado

Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS)

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What is focal segmental glomerulosclerosis?

Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is a kidney disease associated with scarring (sclerosis) of the glomeruli, parts of the tiny filtering units of the kidneys. It can be caused by many different diseases and conditions that affect the kidneys. The name “focal segmental glomerulosclerosis” describes the scattered scarring pattern of the glomeruli (most often with small sections of scarring in each glomerulus and few glomeruli affected in early stages of the disease). FSGS is a type of nephrotic syndrome, which is characterized by extra protein in the urine, decreased kidney function and some degree of body swelling.

What causes FSGS?

There are many causes of FSGS. One possible cause is a result of genetic changes in the protein building blocks of the kidney filters. Another cause of FSGS may be related to an attack on the structural parts of the filtering units of the kidney by a patient’s immune system. Infections, drugs or other diseases like HIV, diabetes, obesity or sickle cell disease may also result in the kind of scarring that is typical for FSGS.

Who gets FSGS?

FSGS can affect individuals of all ages, genders and ethnicities. However, it is more common in males and African Americans.

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