Lupus nephritis is the medical term for kidney disease that occurs in SLE patients. With thisdisease, the tiny filters in the kidneys are damaged resulting in a loss of kidney function. This may lead to fluid retention with weight gain and swelling, called edema. Puffiness in the legs, ankles and/or fingers is often the first complaint of lupus nephritis patients. Other than edema, there are very few signs or symptoms. Lupus nephritis does not produce pain in the abdomen or back, or burning during urination.
The kidneys are especially vulnerable for people with lupus. Varying degrees of inflammation caused by the disease can result in lupus nephritis and even kidney failure.
If the kidney damage reaches a stage where toxic chemicals build up then dialysis is vital. Dialysis has been one of the major advances in 20th century medicine and either haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis has kept thousands of patients with renal failure stable. This includes a number of patients with lupus.