Nephrologists treat kidney disorders. Their patients are usually referred to them by internists when kidney problems are diagnosed as needing specialized care.

In treating kidney disorders, the nephrologist may make use of medications or dialysis (removal of wastes and toxins from the blood by means of a special machine). Referral for surgery is initiated by a nephrologist. Nephrologists also perform kidney biopsies, which are used to diagnose a number of kidney diseases.


Nephrologists are thoroughly grounded in internal medicine, with a special focus on the physiologic processes performed by the kidneys. They must be equally well grounded in biochemistry and the tools of modern biochemical analysis.

A nephrologist also must be familiar with all of the latest computerized diagnostic equipment, as well as the latest in kidney dialysis machines. Training in nephrology includes internship and a residency in internal medicine, followed by a two-year fellowship in nephrology, after which specialty board examinations may be taken.

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