Last reviewed 08/2021

Possible causes of chronic renal failure include:

  • glomerulonephritis - accounts for 25% of cases
  • multisystem disease:
    • diabetes mellitus is the main member of this group
    • Alport's syndrome
  • acute pyelonephritis / tubulointerstitial disease
  • hypertension and vascular causes
  • polycystic kidney disease - the most common cause of familial chronic renal failure
  • idiopathic in 15% of cases


  • drugs - toxic nephropathy e.g. analgesic nephropathy
  • connective tissue disease e.g. polyarteritis nodosa
  • the causes of chronic renal failure in children are presented elsewhere