Nephrology 101: Who Is A Nephrologist And When Should You See One?

Dr. Yasir Hussain

2 min read

Nephrology

The Greek root word ‘nephros’ in nephrology means kidneys, and the full word means the study of kidneys. This includes the study of the numerous functional units present in the kidneys known as ‘nephrons.’. Although integral to human health care, it is one of the least known branches of medical science.

Nephrology:

Nephrology is the branch of medicine that deals with the evaluation of systemic conditions that impact the kidneys, such as diabetes and autoimmune diseases; systemic diseases such as renal osteodystrophy and hypertension that occur as a result of kidney diseases are also dealt with. The scope of nephrology includes the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of electrolyte disturbances to renal replacement surgery, renal transplant and even dialysis.   

Nephrologist- Not a Urologist:

Whereas urologists specialize in the entirety of the urinary tract-of which the kidneys are a vital part- Nephrologists are exclusive Kidney Specialists who are trained in Internal Medicine and treat various diseases of the kidney as well as providing adequate kidney care.

While urologists are surgical specialists, nephrologists are medical specialists whose primary focus is kidney function and related disorders such as diabetes and chronic kidney failure, for which they prescribe nonsurgical medical treatments. A nephrologist’s primary job is to ensure the timely removal of excess and waste in your blood and other bodily fluids, ensure your body’s electrolyte balance is well-maintained and that there are no abnormal variations in your blood pressure. 

Nephrologists are also well versed in kidney-related surgical procedures like catheter placement and vascular access and are experts in the different types of dialysis treatments, such as hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Nephrologists are physicians who attain additional training to become experts with advanced skills related to the care and treatment of kidney disease. They may even work in general or internal medicine, demonstrating care to people without kidney problems.

Their additional roles include providing transplant and intensive care medication, managing immunosuppression and providing perioperative. Further specializations include clinical pharmacology, pediatric nephrology, dialysis, kidney transplantation, chronic kidney disease, cancer-related kidney diseases (Onconephrology), procedural nephrology or other non-nephrology areas as described above. If you need help with any of these, then you should definitely contact a top nephrologist in Karachi for help.

Conditions They Treat:

A nephrologist usually performs tests and ultrasounds in order to determine what stage a particular patient’s kidney problem is at, prescribes medication and refers to renal surgeons or urologists when needed. Some renal conditions commonly treated by nephrologists include:

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD or CRF) or advanced kidney disease

Poly-cystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

Acute Renal Failure (ARF)

High Blood Pressure

End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

Tubular defects

Vascular ailments in the kidneys, such as renal artery stenosis

Kidney neoplasms

Glomerular ailments, such as glomerulonephritis and nephrotic syndrome

Tubulointerstitial kidney diseases

Functional or structural abnormalities of the kidney, bladder, or urine collection system, for instance nephrolithiasis

Other conditions or diseases which may also require a visit to a nephrologist are fluid and electrolyte disorders, acid-base disorders, kidney stones, glomerular diseases, tubulointerstitial diseases and mineral metabolism.

Apart from that, nephrologists perform native kidney and transplant kidney biopsy, dialysis access insertion (temporary vascular access lines, tunnelled vascular access lines, peritoneal dialysis access lines), fistula management (angiographic or surgical fistulogram and plasty), and bone biopsy.

Tests Performed by Nephrologists:

In addition to the usual laboratory tests for diagnosing various renal conditions by determining the levels of urea, creatinine, electrolytes in the blood and urinalysis, some other tests performed are:

A renal biopsy is performed for diagnosis of diseases whose particular level or stage is still unknown. In this procedure, a tissue from the kidneys is removed and is sent to the laboratory for further analysis.

Renal biopsy helps in identification of the type of disease the patient has. It also lets the doctors estimate the severity of the disease and thus come up with a treatment plan.

  • Ultrasound scans

Ultrasound scans are very commonly used for renal diagnosis but are especially important for the examination of the urinary tract and blood vessels.

Used to diagnose Nephrolithiasis if lesions or tumours are detected.

  • Scintigraphy

This nuclear medicine test is rarely employed and is used to accurately test renal function.

When to See a Nephrologist:

A visit to the nephrologist is imperative if you experience blood in urine, have reduced urine output, suspect kidney stones or a urinary tract infection. Another warning sign is if you have high blood pressure that is not responding to medication. You must visit a nephrologist if you experience acute renal failure, accelerated kidney function decline or loss of blood and protein in the urine, or have stage 4 or 5 chronic kidney disease.

If you believe your kidneys are functioning abnormally, or that you have a growth or infection in your kidneys, do not hesitate to book an appointment with a top Nephrologist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com. Or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your renal health.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Yasir Hussain - Author Dr. Yasir Hussain is a Nephrologist practicing in Lahore. Dr. Yasir Hussain has the following degrees: MBBS, FCPS (Nephrology) and has 10 years of experience. You can book an appointment with Dr. Yasir Hussain by calling us or using the 'book appointment' button.

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