Nephrology

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Nephrology is the branch of internal medicine dealing with the study of the function and diseases of the kidney. The word nephrology is derived from the Greek word nephros, which means "kidney", and the suffix -ology, or "study of".

Scope of the specialty

Most diseases affecting the kidney are not limited to the organ itself, but are systemic disorders. Nephrology concerns itself with the diagnosis of kidney disease and its treatment (medication, dialysis), and follow-up of renal transplant patients. Additionally, most nephrologists consider themselves to be expert in the care of electrolyte disorders and hypertension. Given that most renal conditions are chronic, nephrologists "grow with their patients".

Who sees a nephrologist?

Patients are referred to nephrology specialists for various different reasons, such as :

Urologists are surgical specialists of the urinary tract. They are involved in renal diseases that might be amenable to surgery:

  • Diseases of the Bladder and prostate such as malignancy, stones, or obstruction of the urinary tract.

Diagnosis

As with the rest of medicine, important clues as to the cause of any symptom are gained in the history and physical examination.

Laboratory tests are almost always aimed at: urea, creatinine, electrolytes, and urinalysis-- which is frequently the key test in suggesting a diagnosis.

More specialized tests can be ordered to discover or link certain systemic diseases to kidney failure such as hepatitis b or hepatitis c, lupus serologies, paraproteinemias such as amyloidosis or multiple myeloma or various other systemic diseases that lead to kidney failure. 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. However, 24-hour urine samples have recently, in the setting of chronic renal disease, been replaced by spot urine ratio of protein and creatinine.

Other tests often performed by nephrologists are:

Therapy

Many kidney diseases are treated with medication, such as steroids, DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs), antihypertensives (many kidney diseases feature hypertension). Often erythropoietin and vitamin D treatment is required to replace these two hormones, the production of which stagnates in chronic renal disease.

When symptoms of renal failure become too severe, dialysis might be required. Please refer to dialysis for a comprehensive account of this treatment.

If patients proceed to renal transplant, nephrologist often monitor the immunosuppressive regimen and the infections that can occur at this stage.


List of useful articles and CME resources in Nephrology

Free Nephrology CME and educational Resources

  • The International Society of Nephrology (ISN) is a global professional organization representing physicians and scientists around the world with the mission to enhance knowledge, research, clinical practice and leadership in nephrology on a global level, according to local needs.

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Useful Articles


Health science - Medicine - Nephrology - edit
Diseases of the glomerulus
Lupus nephritis | Post-infectious glomerulonephritis | Minimal change disease | Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis | Diabetic nephropathy
Diseases of the proximal convoluted tubules
Fanconi syndrome (Type II renal tubular acidosis) | renal cell carcinoma
Diseases of the distal convoluted tubules
pseudohypoaldosteronism (Type IV renal tubular acidosis)
Diseases of the collecting duct
Type I renal tubular acidosis
Tumours of the kidney
renal cell carcinoma | Wilms' tumour (children)
Diseases of the renal vasculature
renal artery stenosis | vasculitis | atheroembolic disease
Tubulointerstitial diseases of the kidney
Drug-induced interstitial nephritis | Obstructive nephropathy | Radiation nephritis | Reflux nephropathy | Sarcoidosis
Genetic diseases of the kidney/syndromes associated with kidney dysfunction
Alport syndrome | Polycystic kidney disease | Wilms' tumour (children)

von Hippel-Lindau syndrome | Hereditary papillary renal carcinoma | Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome | Hereditary renal carcinoma

Genetic diseases of the kidney/syndromes associated with kidney dysfunction

Chronic Kidney Disease

Anemia in CKD | Causes of CKD | CKD Overview | CKD Tests and Diagnosis | Diabetic Kidney Disease | Eating Right for CKD | High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease | Managing CKD | Mineral and Bone Disorder in CKD | Nutrition for Advanced CKD in Adults | Preventing CKD | Quick Reference on UACR & GFR

Kidney Failure

Eating and Nutrition for Hemodialysis | Financial Help for Treatment of Kidney Failure | Hemodialysis | Kidney Failure | Kidney Transplant | Peritoneal Dialysis

Other Kidney Topics

Acquired Cystic Kidney Disease | Amyloidosis and Kidney Disease | Diabetes Insipidus | Ectopic Kidney | Glomerular Diseases | Goodpasture Syndrome | Henoch-Schönlein Purpura | IgA Nephropathy | Kidney Dysplasia | Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis) | Kidney Stones | Lupus Nephritis | Medullary Sponge Kidney | Nephrotic Syndrome in Adults | Pain Medicine and Kidney Damage | Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) | Renal Artery Stenosis | Renal Tubular Acidosis | Simple Kidney Cysts | Solitary Kidney | Your Kidneys and How They Work | Your Urinary Tract and How It Works


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