Nephrologists – What they Treat, Procedures, and More

Nephrology: An Overview

Nephrology is a specialty branch of medicine concerned with the kidneys and the urinary system consisting of ureters, urinary bladder, prostate, and urethra. It includes kidney physiology, kidney disease, the treatment of kidney-related problems, renal replacement therapy, and treatment of diseases of the urinary tract. Effects of systemic conditions like diabetes and autoimmune diseases and systemic problems like metabolic bone disease and hypertension are studied in nephrology. The doctor who specializes in kidney and urinary system care and its treatments is known as a nephrology specialist or Nephrologist.

Who is a Nephrology Specialist or Nephrologist?

The term ‘nephrologist’ comes from the Greek word ‘nephros’ which means kidney or renal, and ‘ologist’ refers to someone who specializes and studies the kidneys and renal region. Nephrology Specialist or Nephrologists are internal medicine doctors that undergo training to specialize in diagnosing and treating patients with kidney and urinary system diseases. They commonly treat acute renal failure, chronic kidney disease, polycystic kidney disease, kidney stones, and high blood pressure. They also perform common procedures like kidney biopsy, post-renal transplantation care, and dialysis.

What Does a Nephrologist Do?

A nephrologist treats patients who have been referred by their primary care physicians for kidney and urinary related problems, high blood pressure, or certain types of metabolic disorders. When a nephrologist meets with a patient, he/she usually goes over the patient’s complete medical history and performs a physical examination. Based on the study and the results of the examination, they recommend blood, urine and imaging tests to determine how well the patient’s kidneys and urinary tract are functioning. If they find that the kidneys or urinary system are not functioning as they should, he/she helps diagnose the cause and prepare a treatment plan.

When to See a Nephrologist?

Make an appointment immediately if you notice any of the below symptoms that worry you:-

  • Severe swelling (edema) around your eyes and in your ankles and feet
  • Foamy urine that can be the result of excess protein excretion your urine
  • Weight gain due to excess fluid retention
  • Hypertension
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

You may also be referred to a kidney or urinary tract doctor if you are experiencing:-

  • Acute renal failure
  • Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of lower than 90
  • Stage 4 or 5 chronic kidney disease
  • Decline in kidney function
  • Repeated urinary tract infections
  • Blood loss in the urine
  • High blood pressure that is resistant to many medications
  • Repeat kidney stones
  • Protein loss in the urine

What are the common diseases treated by Nephrologists?

  • Acute Kidney Injury
  • Asymptomatic Bacteriuria
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Hematuria
  • Hypertension
  • Hyponatremia
  • Malignant Hypertension
  • Medullary Cystic Disease
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Electrolyte disorders
  • Megaureter
  • Metabolic Acidosis
  • Nephrotic Syndrome
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease
  • Proteinuria
  • Renal Cell Carcinoma
  • Renovascular Hypertension
  • Uremia
  • Urinary Tract Obstruction
  • Vesicoureteral Reflux

What are the Common Procedures Done by a Nephrologist?

  • Sustained Low Efficiency Hemodialysis (SLED)
  • Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT)
  • Ultrasound guided kidney Biopsy
  • Kidney Transplantation
  • Permacath Insertion
  • Continuous Veno Venous/Arteriovenous Hemofiltration
  • Plasma Exchange/ Plasmapheresis
  • Acute Peritoneal Dialysis
  • Arteriovenous Fistula for Haemodialysis

Becoming a Nephrologist: Education & Training Essentials

To become a qualified Nephrologist, a doctor must receive five & a half years of training in M.B.B.S from a medical college which is followed by a postgraduate course in Internal medicine for three years. Furthermore, they also have to pursue a super specialization degree in Nephrology to complete their education and training. 

Dr. Divaanshu Gupta

Dr. Divaanshu Gupta is a cardiac anaesthesiologist in Manipal Hospital, Jaipur. He has done his M.B.B.S. as well as M.D. Anaesthesia from S.M.S. Medical College. He has a vast experience of working in various critical care units of government as well as corporate hospitals.

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