Your doctor is concerned about your renal (kidney) function or another issue that is best addressed by a kidney specialist.
A nephrologist is a physician who specializes in the medical field of nephrology, which is the study, diagnosis and treatment of kidney disorders. Your nephrologist is a specialist in chronic kidney disease, end stage renal disease, kidney stones, electrolyte and fluid management disorders, hypertension, as well as blood or protein found in the urine.
You will meet with your nephrologist to discuss your medical history and current medical conditions that may be contributing to your kidney disease. Further tests may be ordered to provide additional information for your diagnosis and treatment.
It is important for you to bring the following items to your first appointment:
- Insurance card
- Photo ID
- Medications or medication list, including: dosage, frequency and milligrams
- New patient paperwork
- Any medical records you may have (we will copy them and return the originals to you)
- A personal calendar – to help schedule follow-up appointments
In addition, write down any questions you think of before your first visit. Bring these with you.
You will be asked to have lab work prior to each visit in order for the nephrologist to see how your kidneys are functioning at the time of your visit. It is important to have this information to evaluate and treat your kidney disease.
The doctor may adjust your medications based on your evaluation. He or she will consider all your medications before doing so.
Our nephrologists cover a large area of Houston including 24 dialysis units, 16 hospitals and 11 clinics. They are responsible for hospital consults, clinic visits, dialysis rounds and the heart and renal transplant program. The variety of services we provide allows our doctors to keep up with the latest information in each setting and bring this knowledge to our patients and the community.
The kidneys are bean-shaped organs located just below your rib cage in your back. They are primarily responsible for filtering your blood to remove toxins and waste products. They also help balance electrolytes and the blood acid level, and they remove excess fluid as urine to keep your body in balance. In addition, your kidneys produce hormones that prevent anemia, maintain healthy bones and regulate blood pressure.
Blood and urine tests are used to determine your kidney function. The blood tests used are Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and Creatinine. These levels show your kidneys' ability to remove the blood toxins and, in general, the higher these numbers, the lower your kidney function. A 24-hour urine collection may also be used to measure your kidney function.
No. One function of the kidneys is to remove excess fluid that you take in with your diet. With reduced kidney function, extra fluid may accumulate in your body and could be dangerous. While it's important to stay hydrated, you should talk to your doctor about how much fluid is appropriate for you.
The majority of cases of CKD are caused by diabetes and high blood pressure. Other common causes include polycystic kidney disease, glomerulonephritis, obstructive uropathy and renovascular disease.
- Polycystic Kidney Disease – a genetic disease that causes numerous cysts to form on the kidney causing damage
- Glomerulonephritis – damage to the glomerulus, the functioning unit of the kidney, which is responsible for filtering waste products and fluids
- Obstructive Uropathy – the flow of urine is blocked, leading to a backup that causes damage to one or both of the kidneys
- Renovascular disease – narrowing or blockage of the renal arteries or veins that causes decreased blood flow and damages the kidneys.
Kidney failure occurs when your kidneys are not able to function properly. There are two types of kidney failure:
- Acute kidney failure happens quickly over days or weeks and may occur due to dehydration, surgery, serious infections and certain drugs.
- Chronic kidney failure, or chronic kidney disease (CKD), happens progressively over years. CKD is not reversible. It requires replacement of kidney function, with dialysis or transplantation, when the total kidney function is below 10-15%; this is often referred to as End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).