Nephrology is a branch of medicine and pediatrics dealing with kidney function and disease. Nephrology concerns itself with the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases, and the care of those requiring renal replacement therapy, including dialysis and renal transplant patients. Many diseases affecting the kidney are systemic disorders not limited to the organ itself, and may require special treatment.
A nephrologist is a medical doctor who has been trained in the diagnosis and management of kidney disease, by regulating blood pressure, regulating electrolytes, balancing fluids in the body, and administering dialysis.
Conditions requiring a nephrologist
• Acute renal failure or sudden loss of renal function
• Chronic kidney disease
• Hematuria, blood loss in the urine
• Proteinuria, the loss of protein especially albumin in the urine
• Kidney stones, usually only recurrent stone formers.
• Chronic or recurrent urinary tract infections
• Diseases of the bladder and prostate such as malignancy, stones, or obstruction of the urinary tract.
As with the rest of medicine, important clues as to the cause of any symptom are gained in the history and physical examination.
Collection of a 24-hour sample of urine can give valuable information on the filtering capacity of the kidney and the amount of protein loss in some forms of kidney disease.
Many kidney diseases are treated with medication, such as steroids. When chronic kidney disease progresses to stage five, dialysis or transplant is required.