Urologist and nephrologist, what is the difference between doctors

Although both a urologist and a nephrologist are engaged in kidneys, their fields of activity are completely different, but the goal is the same – to restore and maintain the health of their patients.

“I grabbed my lower back”, “something is wrong with the kidneys” – these are the most common complaints that go to the clinic. But which specialist can solve this problem: a urologist or a nephrologist? Understanding the differences between the two doctors will help you go “to the right place” and rather find an effective treatment.

Specialization and duties of a urologist

Urologist is a common profession, for which you need to graduate from a medical school. The urologist has a wide specialization. He deals with the entire genitourinary system.

It includes:

  • Kidneys, ureters, bladder (form the urinary system)
  • The genitals.

It should be noted that the urologist treats the urinary system of patients of any gender and age, as well as male genital organs.

Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), urinary incontinence, benign and malignant tumors are just a few of the problems he has to deal with. Such diverse problems require a different approach. Therefore, this doctor is ready to perform both the functions of a therapist and the functions of a surgeon.

His responsibilities include:

  1. Listen to the patient and record his medical history.
  2. Inspect.
  3. Send for analysis (first of all, a general analysis of urine and blood).
  4. Prescribe medication.
  5. In case of acute condition, send to the hospital.
  6. If necessary, perform an operation (for example, removing stones from the bladder).

Patients often need help immediately. The state made sure that in almost every district clinic there was a urologist who could provide such assistance.

Features of the profession of a nephrologist

Nephrology is a very complex science .

It consists in a deep study of the kidneys, a unique organ that performs the following functions:

  • Excretion of harmful substances from the body as part of urine.
  • Maintaining the water-salt balance of the body.
  • Hormonal function.
  • Blood formation.

The kidneys perform so many tasks in the body that their health is vital to humans. A nephrologist is a specialist who deals exclusively with kidney health. He must thoroughly know their kidney structure in order to be able to find where the failure in their work has occurred and to determine the appropriate treatment method. It is not simple.

There are diseases with symptoms that leave no doubt about the diagnosis. For example, severe pain in the kidneys in combination with bloody urine indicates an acute stage of pyelonephritis. And multiple formations on the surface of the kidney, seen on an ultrasound scan, suggest polycystic.

Everything is much more complicated when the diseases are asymptomatic, without any external changes in the organs. Sometimes a slight fever, pressure problems, and constant weakness are all that is known. And behind them may be glomerulonephritis or chronic renal failure, threatening the patient’s life. Only a well-trained professional can make a diagnosis in time. Such doctors usually work in the regional clinic and in some private medical centers.

What unites these specialists

Common to the urologist and nephrologist are medical education and work with patients. The patient has the right to expect that he will be admitted and, at least, examined, and also sent for analysis to clarify the diagnosis. Of course, getting to the urologist is easier. Not all patients know about the existence of a nephrologist. Ultimately, the decision is up to the therapist: he must give direction to one of these specialists. Joint consultation is sometimes required.

Both doctors know the kidneys well, their structure, functions, features of work and disease. They can differentiate symptoms and find the cause of a person’s disease state.


A nephrologist provides assistance only if there is any disease or pathology of the kidneys. He will not take up the treatment of a patient with cystitis or blocked ureters. The urologist deals with the entire urinary system. If necessary, he can operate on the patient and remove stones from both the ureters and the kidneys themselves.

A urologist knows how to work with a scalpel, a nephrologist is engaged in medical treatment, carefully selecting drugs in each case. But this does not mean that his work is easier. Its task is to achieve changes in the cups, pelvis, tubules, glomeruli of the kidneys, organizing long-term treatment, when every milligram of the drug matters.

In the arsenal of the nephrologist there are many analyzes: general urine analysis, urine according to Nechiporenko, Bence-Jones analysis, analysis of daily proteinuria, analysis using radioactive substances, hormones analysis, blood analysis with a detailed formula, etc. Only skillful use of all these tools will give result, one or two studies will not be enough.

Unlike a urologist, the nephrologist’s specialization is so narrow that they distinguish between a pediatric nephrologist and a nephrologist treating adult patients. The age differences are so great that a separate training is needed to work with each group of patients.

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