What is nephrology?

Nephrology is the study and treatment of kidney disease. Doctors, nurses, and technicians specialize in treating patients with kidney disorders. Nephrologists treat patients with kidney disorders and manage transplant protocols in hospitals and for transplant networks. They also run dialysis centers and programs. Like other specialists, these doctors serve an additional residency in their field, beyond the standard training for a general practitioner. Because kidney disease affects the entire body, a nephrologist must also have a good understanding of other aspects of internal medicine and how kidney failure can cause other body systems to fail.

Kidney disorders can be caused by birth defects, disease, or lifestyle. Nephrology deals with all these disorders, regardless of their origin. The field even specializes in pediatric nephrology, which deals exclusively with kidney diseases or disorders in children.

Doctors have tried to treat kidney disease for centuries, but like many other medical conditions, only in the last 75-100 years has much progress been made in treating these diseases. New technologies for diagnosing kidney disease, new treatments and medications have enabled the nephrologist to treat their patients with a higher degree of success. Joseph Murray performed the first successful kidney transplant in 1954 and later received a Nobel Prize for his achievement.

Nurses and technicians are also an integral part of the field of nephrology. These medical professionals are often trained to administer hemodialysis and teach patients how to perform peritoneal dialysis. They can also be a front-line team to help detect complications before they become life-threatening.

Dieticians and social workers even have their place in the field of nephrology. They work closely with doctors and nurses, focusing on helping patients live quality lives, as well as helping families understand their loved one's medical problems. Nephrology is a complicated field and requires the dedication of everyone involved to ensure the best patient care.

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