Nephrology vs Urology : What is the difference between them?

Difference between Nephrology and Urology : It’s simple

nephrologist-urologist

Urology and Nephrology both deal with the study of the urinary tract and its diseases. So when you are told to have a “kidney problem”, you may become confused about which specialist to consult. At Dharma Kidney Care, where we provide nephrology services in Bangalore, we routinely get a lot of inquiries from patients who actually need to see a urologist.  This article aims to answer a very simple question you may have in such a situation :

“Should I consult a urologist or a nephrologist?”

A urologist is a surgical kidney specialist who treats mainly structural diseases of the kidney. In other words, the problem is due to physical reasons such as:

  1. kidney stones

  2. cancer of the urinary tract

  3. blockages in the passage of urine leading to swelling of the kidney (“hydronephrosis”)

  4. prostate enlargement

  5. birth defects in the kidney (like cysts, deformed kidneys, etc)

A nephrologist, on the other hand, is a medical kidney specialist who manages mainly functional issues of the kidney. So, the kidney function is impaired resulting in :

  1. kidney failure needing dialysis or kidney transplantation

  2. protein leakage in the urine

  3. high blood pressure or hypertension (yes, kidneys maintain your blood pressure)

  4. decreased kidney function (called “chronic kidney disease”)

  5. imbalances in the chemical composition of blood (high or low sodium and/or potassium in the blood)

Of course, there is some overlap between the type of problems that they treat. For example, a simple urinary tract infection can be managed equally well by both urologists and nephrologists.

On the other hand, many conditions need collaboration between them for best results. For example, someone with severe blockage in the kidney tract may end up with kidney failure. While the nephrologist treats the kidney failure part, the urologist may operate or perform a procedure to remove the blockage.

So, there you have it. The difference between urology and nephrology explained in a simple way. Hope it saves you a lot of time waiting for the wrong doctor!