Both urologists and nephrologists are medical specialists focusing on treating the organs of the renal system, including the kidney. Naturally, this overlap in their practices is a common source of confusion for those seeking treatment for kidney stones.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the main differences and similarities between nephrologists and urologists to help you determine which to see for treating a kidney stone. Let’s get right to it!
The Similarities and Differences Between a Urologist and a Nephrologist
To understand which type of specialist—a urologist or nephrologist—will best be able to treat your kidney stone, it’s important to understand the differences between the two. Both nephrologists and urologists primarily focus on the health of the overall renal system, which accounts for the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. However, the main distinction between the two specialties lies in their primary focus and treatment abilities.
Essentially, urologists are primarily focused on the urinary tract, which can involve kidney health. Therefore, urologists have some focus on the kidneys. Conversely, nephrologists are primarily focused on the kidneys, which can impact the urinary tract. Therefore, nephrologists also have some focus on the urinary tract.
However, urologists also focus on treating the organs of the male reproductive system, the adrenal glands, and the prostate glands. Additionally, urology is a surgical specialty, so urologists can surgically treat conditions relating to the urinary tract (including the kidneys) or reproductive system.
Should You See a Nephrologist or a Urologist for Kidney Stones?
Whether you should see a nephrologist or urologist for your kidney stones may depend on where the kidney stone is located, as well as the size of the kidney stone. If your kidney stone is identified early and is small, a nephrologist may be able to treat it by encouraging a kidney-friendly diet and adequate fluid intake. A nephrologist may also treat a kidney stone by prescribing medications or therapies such as shock wave lithotripsy to break the kidney stone into smaller pieces.
However, if a kidney stone is larger or leads to complications, such as getting stuck in the urinary tract, it could potentially need treatment from a urologist. They may perform a surgical operation to locate and remove the stone.
Other Urologist vs. Nephrologist FAQs
Nephrologists and urologists are indeed similar in a number of ways, but by now you have an understanding of the main differences between the two. However, you may still have a few other questions. Here, we’ll answer some common questions about urologists and nephrologists.
Do Urologists Treat Kidneys?
Yes, urologists treat the kidneys, but these treatments are often surgeries or other medical procedures. However, nephrologists are the experts when it comes to kidney care, and they will typically perform most of your kidney care, such as renal ultrasounds, prescribing kidney-friendly diets, assessing kidney disease, and much more.
Do Nephrologists Do Surgery?
One of the main distinctions between nephrologists and urologists is that urologists are surgeons, and nephrologists rarely are. Nephrologists are experts on kidneys, so they’ll be able to identify the right specialists, such as a urologist, transplant surgeon, or general surgeon to perform operations, but will not actually perform the operations themselves.
Milwaukee Nephrologist is Here to Support Your Kidney Health
Ultimately, many of your kidney-related health concerns will initially be addressed by your primary care physician. They will likely be able to determine which specialist you need for your kidney stone; a nephrologist or urologist. Keep in mind that you may not simply need one or the other; oftentimes, nephrologists and urologists work in tandem, with the nephrologist diagnosing and providing guidance for treatment while a urologist executes surgical operations and other treatments.
If you’ve spoken with your physician and are looking for a nephrologist in the Milwaukee area, Milwaukee Nephrologists is here for you. With decades of experience providing all aspects of kidney care, from kidney stone treatment to peritoneal dialysis, we’re here to help you along your health journey.
To learn more or schedule a consultation with a member of our experienced staff, contact Milwaukee Nephrologists today.
This post is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. You should not base any action or inaction on the information conveyed in this post. Consult with your physician for more information.