Table of Contents

Minimal Change Disease

What is minimal change disease?

Minimal change disease is a kidney disorder characterized by damage to the glomerulus. The glomerulus is a network of capillaries in the kidney which serves as the first stage in the filtering process of the blood carried out by the nephron in urine formation. Minimal change disease gets its name because the damage cannot be seen under a regular microscope. It can only be seen under an electron microscope. Minimal change disease, though rare, is the most common cause of nephrotic syndrome in children.

What are the symptoms of minimal change disease?

The following are all symptoms that are associated with minimal change disease:
  • Foamy appearance of the urine
  • Poor appetite
  • Swelling, especially around the eyes, feet, ankles, and abdomen
  • Weight gain (from fluid retention)

What causes minimal change disease?

The cause of minimal change disease is largely unknown, but scientists suspect that it may occur after, or be related to:
  • Allergic reactions
  • Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Tumors
  • Vaccinations (flu and pneumococcal, though rare)
  • Viral infections

How is minimal change disease diagnosed?

A doctor may do any of the following tests to reach a diagnosis of minimal change disease:
  • Urine test
  • Blood test
  • Glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
  • Kidney biopsy

What are the available treatments for minimal change disease?

Corticosteroids can cure minimal change disease in most children. Some children may need to stay on these steroids to keep the disease from returning. In adults, steroids are effective, but not as effective as in children. Symptomatic swelling may be treated with:
  • ACE inhibitor medicines
  • Blood pressure control
  • Diuretics

Where can I find out more about minimal change disease?

Minimal Change Disease Articles