What is nephrology? What is the work of nephrologists?

A Baxter RCS specialist clears up all your doubts regarding this medical specialty that is responsible for keeping the kidneys healthy.

Many ordinary people feel as if they are being spoken to in Chinese every time a medical term is mentioned. They are even afraid to ask their primary care doctors when they have questions. Some patients, for example, are not very clear about what will happen after being referred to the nephrology area, precisely because they have little knowledge of the specialty. Therefore, to clear up all concerns, Dr. Oscar Gilberto Rocha, Baxter RCS nephrologist, tells us clearly and concisely what nephrology consists of and what the work of the specialists who work in it is.


  1. What does nephrology treat?

“Nephrology is a subspecialty of internal medicine. It is the part of medicine that is responsible for the study and management of the functions and pathologies that affect the kidneys.

  1. What is the job of nephrologists?

"The work of nephrologists is related to the health of the kidneys and the management of pathologies that may affect this organ of the body."

  1. When and in which cases should a consultation with him be requested?

“There are many reasons to request a consultation with the nephrologist, the most frequent are the following:

  • Loss of protein in the urine.
  • Elevation of serum creatinine which can be an acute problem (called acute kidney injury) or a chronic problem (called chronic kidney disease). Creatinine is a substance produced in the body and eliminated by the kidney; This substance is used to measure the ability of the kidneys to remove toxins.
  • Difficult-to-manage high blood pressure.
  • When certain systemic diseases affect kidney function: diabetes mellitus 2, systemic lupus erythematosus, arterial hypertension.
  • When the ability of the kidneys to eliminate toxins is altered, it would be ideal to follow up with nephrology to prevent further deterioration, if possible, and if this is not possible, to delay deterioration, as well as to manage comorbidities associated with impaired kidney function.
  • Bleeding in the urine.
  • Inflammation in the body, although this may have causes that are not related to the kidney.
  • When a patient has undergone a kidney transplant.
  1. How is nephrology different from urology?

“Urologists are medical specialists who deal with pathologies of the urinary system in men and women, as well as the male reproductive system. Urologists are also those who perform surgical interventions related to the kidney, such as renal masses, as well as those related to the urinary tract and the male reproductive system. Nephrologists focus more on medical management than mentioned above, such as procedures, some nephrologists perform the implantation of hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis catheters, as well as taking renal biopsies (although the latter procedure is more frequently performed by an interventional radiologist) . There are some pathologies that are handled by both specialties, such as kidney stones, and urinary tract infections, to give a few examples.”

  1. What diseases does nephrology and the nephrologist deal with?

“The nephrologist could deal with any pathology that affects kidney function; There are many pathologies that affect the entire body that can also affect the kidney, such as arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus, systemic lupus erythematosus, among many others. These can be manifested by inflammation in the body, bleeding in the urine, alteration in the values of creatinine in the blood, loss of protein in the urine.

There are other pathologies that primarily affect the kidney and can have repercussions throughout the body. Within these there are some called glomerulopathies where the functional unit of the kidney is altered and can be manifested by bleeding in the urine, loss of protein in the urine, inflammation in the body and elevated creatinine. Another of these pathologies that primarily affect the kidney are called tubulopathies and are related to alterations in the handling by the kidney of certain substances such as potassium, sodium, chlorine, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, as well as alterations in the acid-base state. 

  1. For those who are still not so clear: what are the main functions of the kidneys? Why can they start to fail or get sick?

“The main functions are:

  • Eliminate many of the toxins that are generated in the body from protein metabolism.
  • Body water balance.
  • Maintenance of normal levels of substances such as sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium.
  • Blood pressure regulation.
  • Maintenance of the acid-base state of the body.
  • Production of certain hormones such as erythropoietin that maintains the number of red blood cells in the body, activation of vitamin D that is important in bone health.
  1. Who are pediatric nephrologists?

“Pediatric nephrologists are pediatricians who have specialized in the management of kidney pathologies. In Colombia, they normally assess patients under 18 years of age who suffer from nephrological conditions, but this age may vary in other countries.”

  1. What types of diseases do pediatric nephrologists treat? In which cases should a consultation with him be requested to treat a child?

“The most frequent reasons for consulting pediatric nephrologists are urinary tract infections, bleeding in the urine, loss of protein in the urine, acute and chronic blood creatinine elevations, congenital kidney function problems, renal disorders related to people who were born prematurely, growth disturbances related to kidney malfunction.

Some of the pathologies handled by adult nephrologists are not frequent in pediatric nephrologists, such as diabetes mellitus, arterial hypertension, but these cases may also exist in the pediatric population”.