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Berger's Disease
August 2003

Q. My brother is 50 years old and has been diagnosed with Berger's disease. He has a finger on his right hand that curls under to the extent that he cannot straighten it. Five years ago he had the small toe on his right foot amputated due to infection. Two years ago he suffered a heart attack. Three days ago he had half of one of his big toes amputated due to infection in the bone.

Nothing I have read about Berger's disease suggests loss of extremities. His doctor's tell him that his poor circulation is the cause of his problem, along with his smoking. From what I have read, Berger's disease eventually attacks the kidneys.

Could you please tell me exactly (or as best you can with the information that I have provided) what Berger's disease is and what someone with my brother's history can look forward to?

A. Berger's disease is an inflammatory condition of the kidney whose cause is unknown. It often begins with blood appearing in the urine but no other evidence of renal dysfunction. The diagnosis is made by taking a biopsy (tissue sample) of the kidney for laboratory analysis, which shows deposits of IgA antibodies in the kidney tissue.

In some cases the condition remains stable without worsening of kidney function, and in some there is slow decline of kidney function over many years. Estimates are that 25% of patients will have renal failure over a 25 year time span. Other manifestations of kidney problems such as high blood pressure and edema (swelling) can occur.

Treatment is usually directed by a nephrologist. There is not a particular association between Berger's disease and poor circulation, but smoking and other risk factors should be eliminated.



National Kidney Foundation
30 East 33rd St., Suite 1100
New York, NY 10016
(800) 622-9010
(212) 889-2210

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