Nephrologists are physicians who deal with diseases of the kidneys and fluid and electrolyte imbalances.
Patients are first examined and assessed by general physicians who refer them to nephrologists when kidney disease or abnormalities are confirmed.
Some of the common reasons for referral to a nephrologist who specializes in kidney diseases include:-
- Acute renal failure or sudden loss of kidney functions
- Chronic renal/kidney disease or CKD with long term decline in kidney functions
- Presence of blood, proteins or casts and crystals in the urine
- Long term or recurring kidney infections including cystitis (bladder infections) and Pyelonephritis (kidney infection)
- Kidney stones or patients who have recurrence of kidney stone formation
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Acid base imbalance or electrolyte disorders
- Cancers of the kidneys or urinary bladder
- Diabetic nephropathy or diabetic kidney disease
- Hypertensive nephrosclerosis or kidney damage due to high blood pressure
- Atheroembolic kidney disease or kidney damage due to atherosclerosis and resulting thrombosis
- Renal blood vessel disease
- Nephritic syndrome
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Acute tubular necrosis
- Dialysis and its long term complications – dialysis includes hemodialysis as well as peritoneal dialysis
- Autoimmune diseases including autoimmune vasculitis, lupus, etc.
- Hydronephrosis or damage to the kidneys due to backward flow of urine possibly due to obstruction in the outflow of urine.
- Tubulo/interstitial renal diseases
- Cystic diseases including polycystic kidney disease where fluid filled sacs are formed in the kidney impairing functions
- Drugs or toxins that have caused kidney damage
- Clinical disorders of major electrolytes (Potassium K+, Calcium Ca2+, Magnesium Mg2+, Phosphates PO42- )
Nephrology and urology
The nephrologist usually works in conjunction with Urologists who deal with the surgical aspects of kidney disease and diseases of the bladder, ureters and urethra.