Renal medicine

Nephrologists (doctors in renal medicine) diagnose and treat diseases of the kidneys.

Nature of the work

General nephrology includes the management of patients with diseases which affect the kidney.

Diseases that affect the kidney include:

Nephrologists also see patients with acute kidney injury (AKI) when  only the kidney is affected (for example, following certain drug reactions) and also AKI as  part of multi-system failure resulting, for example, from septicaemia (blood poisoning).

They also manage patients with end-stage kidney failure either by dialysis or by kidney transplantation.

Nephrologists manage acutely ill patients and those with a chronic disease requiring long term care with the help of colleagues in a multidisciplinary team. A patient, for example, may progress to renal failure and require dialysis and subsequently a renal transplant over a period of 10 to 20 years.

They generally work in renal units based in district general hospitals or university teaching hospitals. The renal services in these two types of hospital are broadly similar, with the exception that renal transplantation mostly takes place in university teaching hospitals. Many renal units also manage satellite haemodialysis units, either in other hospitals or in community-based facilities.

More renal medicine specialists will be needed in future to cope with the predicted  increase in chronic kidney disease in the UK.

Nephrologists treat conditions such as:

Common procedures/interventions

These include:


Many nephrologists develop sub-specialty interests such as:

Want to learn more?

Find out about:

Other roles that may interest you

Make a comment or report a problem with this page

Help us improve