Nephrology is the medical specialty which focuses on the treatment of kidney conditions and abnormalities. A physician who practices nephrology is called a nephrologist.
Nephrologists diagnose causes and levels of kidney failure and prescribe appropriate treatment such as medication, diet changes, or dialysis. If none of these treatments work, a kidney transplant would be performed by a transplant surgeon.
The kidney is affected by many chronic and systematic diseases as well as acute injury, infections, and kidney stones. There is a growing need for renal medicine due to the prevalence of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. As the Baby Boom generation enters their later years, there will be further need for nephrology.
Patients would be referred to a nephrologist if there are any signs of kidney disease, including blood or protein in the urine, disturbances of electrolyte and acid/base balance, kidney stones, acute kidney failure, and chronic kidney disease. A nephrologist might perform a kidney biopsy.
Nephrologists often care for patients for a long period of time, managing their kidney problems through end-state renal failure. The nephrologist must coordinate care with primary care physicians, surgeons, and other health professionals. Patients may be referred for dialysis or a kidney transplant.