A nephrologist is a physician who has specialized training in the structure, function, issues, diseases, and treatment of the kidneys. Usually, kidney doctors do not perform complex surgeries, but they can utilize state-of-the-art diagnostics to pinpoint and treat kidney dysfunction.
Diseases Related to the Kidneys
The kidneys are the central processing plants of liquid waste in your body. They remove waste and toxins from your blood, form urine, and begin to move the urine to the bladder so it can be excreted through the urethra and out of the body.
Located just below the ribs on both sides of the body, these twin organs also play a significant role in:
- Blood pressure and electrolyte (sodium and potassium) regulation
- Calcium metabolism
- Hormone production
- Creation of red blood cells
Like many major organs, the kidneys are prone to various inherited, chronic, and acute disease conditions. In particular, the kidneys are adversely impacted by diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure), both of which can lead to chronic kidney disease and even renal failure.
Additionally, the kidneys can develop renal calculi, or kidney stones, and infections such as glomerulonephritis. Polycystic kidney disease is a hereditary condition as is urinary reflux, a pediatric issue in which the tiny valves in the ureters do not work properly. In urinary reflux, the valves cause backflow of urine into the pelvis or into the kidneys themselves.
How Can a Kidney Doctor Treat Kidney Disease?
A nephrologist can perform tests and possibly take a biopsy to obtain tissue samples of your kidney for lab analysis. Your kidney doctor can also work closely with urologists on necessary surgical procedures such as kidney transplants and ureteral reimplantation for reflux.
Nephrologists use the following to assess and treat health issues related to the kidneys:
- Renal dialysis (kidney dialysis), the several-times-per-week removal of wastes from the bloodstream – commonly used to treat advanced kidney failure
- Blood tests to look for elevated creatinine and electrolyte levels, as well as glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
- Urinalysis (urine testing) to look for infections and breakdown
- Ultrasonography, CT scanning, and/or MRI to inspect the kidneys
- MR angiography, which employs contrast dye to assess kidney blood flow
- Renal arteriography, which assesses blood flow through the kidneys through injection of a dye into the aorta
Also, nephrologists perform in-office physical examinations. They look for signs and symptoms of kidney problems. These symptoms can include:
- Swelling (edema) of the lower extremities and/or face
- Elevated blood pressure
- Lung congestion
- Changes in weight and/or heart rate
Top Nephrologists in Greater Boston
At Commonwealth Nephrology Associates, our team of board-certified nephrologists serve the needs of kidney patients of all ages. If you are concerned about your kidney function or kidney disease, see one of our outstanding kidney doctors.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, contact our friendly staff today by calling us at (617) 739-2100, or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to being your partner in health!