What Is Nephrology and What Does a Nephrologist Do?
Who is a Nephrologist?
A nephrologist is a doctor who specialises in kidney and hemodialysis treatment disorders. The kidney is a vital part of the excretory system as it is the centre for filtration and removes excess salts, electrolytes and water from the body through urine.
Who is a paediatric Nephrologist?
A paediatric nephrology specialist is a doctor who has specialised training in kidney treatment of infants, children and adolescents.
What is the work of a Nephrologist?
A nephrologist would examine and treat kidney problems. Also, they would explain the effects of kidney disorders on other parts of the body, such as:
- Autoimmune disorder
- Cardiovascular system
- High blood pressure
What training does a nephrologist undergo?
Nephrology specialist undergoes the following training to become a professional:
- Four years of medical college
- One year of internship
- Three years of residency ( specialised training in nephrology)
- Two or three years of fellowship. There can be one more year of fellowship to get more training in transplant treatment or interventional nephrology for kidney disease specialists.
- The nephrology specialist should also have board certification in internal medicine and nephrology from the medical council of India.
What is transplant nephrology?
Transplant nephrology is a technique which covers both kidney transplant surgery and pancreas transplant, as well as taking care of the patients after the procedure.
What is interventional nephrology?
Interventional nephrology ensures proper blood supply to the blood vessels for dialysis. The interventional kidney disease specialist performs a kidney biopsy. They have specialised training in removing or playing catheters, blood clot removal, and placing stents and fistulograms.
What other disorders can be treated by Nephrologists?
Some of the common problems that nephrology specialists treat include:
- High blood pressure
- Kidney failure
- Cystic kidney diseases
- Kidney stones
- Nephrotic syndrome
- End-stage renal disease
- Hemolytic uremic syndrome
- Urinary tract infections
- Kidney infections
- Hyponatremia and electrolyte imbalances
- Toxins accumulations which require hemodialysis treatment
What are the tests and procedures done by the nephrologist?
Some of the common tests performed by kidney disease specialist include:
- Imaging tests: Kidney imaging tests include X-rays, CT scans and ultrasounds.
- Kidney function tests: It is done to determine the glomerular filtration rate. It includes blood tests and urine tests.
- Dialysis: If the kidneys are not functioning as required, dialysis is done, which purifies the blood and removes the waste products.
- Kidney biopsy: To better understand your condition, the nephrologist would take a small sample of the kidney to perform a biopsy.
- Kidney transplant care: In kidney transplant surgery, the surgeon would replace your damaged kidney with a healthy one from a donor. A lot of post Kidney transplant surgery care is necessary; hence, the nephrologist and transplant surgeon would work together to help you recover.
What is the difference between a nephrologist and a urologist?
Both of these specialisations are closely related. Nephrologists work on kidney disorders, whereas urologists work on disorders related to the urinary tract. Urologists also treat problems in the reproductive system.
Urologists have specialised training in surgical training and intervene in kidney disorders which require surgery, such as kidney stones or kidney cancer. Nephrologists do not perform surgeries.
When to see a Nephrologist?
You should consider visiting a nephrologist if you feel any kidney-related issues. Some of these include:
- Family history of kidney disease
- Diabetic patients
- Patients suffering from high blood pressure
- If you notice any change in your urine colour
- If you have noticed that your thinking speed has decreased and you cannot concentrate properly, visit a neurologist. It is termed brain fog which is a symptom of kidney disease.
What happens in the first consultation with a Nephrologist?
In the first meeting with your nephrologist, they would do the following things:
- Look over your medical history.
- Inquire about your present conditions and the symptoms you are facing.
- Perform a physical examination.
- Ask for blood, urine, and imaging tests to understand the glomerular filtration rate and check the extent of the damage.
Before visiting the nephrologist, prepare a list of questions you want to ask and inform them of all your medical conditions for better diagnosis and treatment. Ask any question which comes to your mind. The nephrologist would answer all your queries and try their best to support you.