Nephrology is a specialty of adult internal medicine and pediatric medicine that concerns the study of the kidneys, specifically normal kidney function (renal physiology) and kidney disease (renal pathophysiology), the preservation of kidney health, and the treatment of kidney disease, from diet and medication to renal replacement therapy (dialysis and kidney transplantation). The word “renal” is an adjective meaning “relating to the kidneys”, and its roots are French or late Latin. Whereas according to some opinions, “renal” and “nephro” should be replaced with “kidney” in scientific writings such as “kidney medicine” (instead of nephrology) or “kidney replacement therapay”, other experts have advocated preserving the use of renal and nephro as appropriate including in “nephrology” and “renal replacement therapy”, respectively.
Nephrology also studies systemic conditions that affect the kidneys, such as diabetes and autoimmune disease; and systemic diseases that occur as a result of kidney disease, such as renal osteodystrophy and hypertension. A physician who has undertaken additional training and become certified in nephrology is called a nephrologist.
Nephrology concerns the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases, including electrolyte disturbances and hypertension, and the care of those requiring renal replacement therapy, including dialysis and renal transplant patients. The word ‘dialysis’ is from the mid 19th century: via Latin from the Greek word ‘dialusis’; from ‘dialuein’ (split, separate), from ‘dia’ (apart) and ‘luein’ (set free). In other words, dialysis replaces the primary (excretory) function of the kidney, which separates (and removes) excess toxins and water from the blood, placing them in the urine.