Nephrology - What is Nephrology?

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Nephrology is a branch of medical science that deals with diseases of the kidneys.

What do the kidneys do?

The kidneys are vital for life with their complex network of blood vessels and intricate network of tubes and tubules that filter blood of its waste products and excess water.

The kidneys maintain the fluid, electrolyte, and acid-base regulation that are altered by several disease conditions as well as drugs and toxins.

Diseases under the branch of nephrology

Nephrology deals with study of the normal working of the kidneys as well as its diseases. The diseases that come under the scope of nephrology include:-

  • Glomerular disorders that affect the tiny filtering systems of the kidneys called the glomerulus
  • Urine abnormalities such as excess excretion of protein, sugar, blood, casts, crystals etc.
  • Tubulointerstitial diseases affecting the tubules in the kidneys
  • Renal vascular diseases affecting the blood vessel networks within the kidneys
  • Renal failure that can be sudden or acute or long term or chronic
  • Kidney and bladder stones
  • Kidney infections
  • Cancers of the kidneys, bladder, and urethra
  • Effects of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure on kidneys
  • Acid base imbalances
  • Nephrotic syndrome and nephritis
  • Ill effects of drugs and toxins on the kidneys
  • Dialysis and its long term complications - dialysis includes hemodialysis as well as peritoneal dialysis
  • Autoimmune diseases including autoimmune vasculitis, lupus, etc.
  • Polycystic kidneys diseases where large cysts or fluid filled sacs are formed within the kidney impairing its functions - this is a congenital and inherited or genetic condition
  • Hydronephrosis

Nephrology societies

In the United States of America, the National Kidney Foundation is an organization set up for nephrology and nephrologists.

In 1966, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) was founded that forms world’s largest professional society dedicated to nephrology.

The American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) is a non-profit group that deals with chronic kidney diseases and dialysis.

In the United Kingdom the National Kidney Federation and the Renal Association are dedicated to nephrology.

Reviewed by , BA Hons (Cantab)

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jul 14, 2013

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