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.
Everything You Need to Know About Renal Ultrasounds
A renal ultrasound is an ultrasound of the kidney. It can provide insight into your kidney health and clarify what the best treatment options are for your health journey. In this blog, we’ll explore renal ultrasounds in depth and answer frequently asked questions about the procedure.
What is a Renal Ultrasound?
While one of the most common uses of ultrasound is to observe fetal growth in pregnant women, they can also be used to identify problems with specific organs. A renal ultrasound, or kidney ultrasound, is a commonly used method to observe kidney function.
Renal ultrasounds are non-invasive, painless, easy, and unlike an X-Ray, an ultrasound uses no radiation, making it a completely safe procedure.
What Does a Renal Ultrasound Show?
A kidney ultrasound can show several useful things. If you’ve been having any health issues relating to your kidneys, an ultrasound might be ordered to reveal the following:
How is a Renal Ultrasound Done?
An ultrasound is a medical diagnostic technique that uses sound waves to take live images of organs and tissue inside your body. You can think of an ultrasound as an X-ray for your body’s soft tissues.
The ultrasound machine sends sound waves toward your kidneys; those sound waves are then recorded and translated into a visual feed, which is then displayed on a computer for analysis.
What Happens During the Renal Ultrasound Procedure?
The renal ultrasound procedure is very simple and safe. Before it begins, you may be asked to undress and change into a medical gown, as this will reduce the chance that any clothing or objects you have with you interfere with the ultrasound machine.
Next, you’ll lie on your stomach and your provider will apply a gel to your skin on the area around your kidneys. The sound waves that an ultrasound machine produces struggle to move directly through the air, so the gel acts as a conductor of the sound waves. The gel can sometimes leave your skin feeling oily, sticky, or dry, although these side effects are generally harmless.
Then, the provider will run the ultrasound transducer, which looks vaguely like a remote control, across your body. The transducer produces the soundwaves that then bounce off tissues—including your kidneys.
Finally, the reflection of soundwaves off your kidneys will be translated into a visual feed and displayed on a computer.
Renal Ultrasound Prep Tips
There’s typically very little you need to do to prep for a renal ultrasound. Furthermore, unlike other medical procedures that limit your food or drink intake ahead of time, most renal ultrasounds don’t require you to alter your diet or stop taking medication.
The main renal ultrasound prep tip is to ensure you drink enough water—typically around a quart—before the procedure. This helps ensure that you receive quality images of your kidneys and can also help assess your bladder’s volume.
Your nephrologist, physician, or ultrasound provider may have ultrasound prep tips specific to your health, so be sure to consult with them prior to your appointment.
Renal Ultrasound FAQs
A renal ultrasound is an incredible procedure. To address as much as we can about kidney ultrasounds, we’ve answered a few additional common questions here.
What’s the Difference Between a Renal Ultrasound and a Renal Sonogram?
As far as the average patient is concerned, there’s no difference between a renal ultrasound and a renal sonogram. Technically speaking, a kidney ultrasound refers to the entire ultrasound procedure—that is, using high-frequency soundwaves to create images of soft tissues.
A sonogram, however, only refers to the images produced by the ultrasound process. So, you have an ultrasound done, and you look at the sonogram.
How Long Does a Renal Ultrasound Take?
A renal ultrasound typically takes about half an hour but can be shorter or longer depending on the patient. However, ultrasounds are rarely lengthy procedures.
What Other Procedures Can Observe the Kidneys?
An ultrasound isn’t the only method of observing the kidneys. Other effective methods include:
Turn to Milwaukee Nephrologists for Specialized Kidney Care
If you have questions about your kidney health and think an ultrasound could provide answers, turn to Milwaukee Nephrologists, the Milwaukee area’s kidney specialists.
Milwaukee Nephrologists is a network of experts and doctors that are board-certified in nephrology and have chosen a focus that provides a wide array of sub-specialization. If you or a loved one are in southeast Wisconsin and suffer from kidney disease, we're here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
Image source: Medical News Today
The Difference Between Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis
Kidney disease is a severe ailment that affects an estimated 37 million people in the United States, with millions more at risk. Kidney disease poses various health concerns and complications and, if left untreated, can be fatal. The most effective way to treat kidney failure is through dialysis.
There are two different types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. In this guide, we’ll explain who needs dialysis, the two types of dialysis, the differences between peritoneal dialysis vs. hemodialysis, and which dialysis type is right for you.
When Do You Need Dialysis?
To better understand the differences between hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, it's important to thoroughly understand what the kidneys do and why they are significant. Your kidneys are crucial to filtering waste and harmful substances out of the bloodstream. They absorb essential vitamins and nutrients, expelling everything else out of the body in the form of urine. The kidneys also regulate your body's hydration levels and assist in hormone production.
If your kidneys fail, they allow harmful elements into the bloodstream, leading to complications with the central nervous system, diabetes, heart problems, and more. You may also experience some common symptoms of kidney failure, such as nausea, vomiting, decreased urine output, fatigue, swelling from fluid retention, and more.
If your kidneys no longer remove enough waste and fluid from your blood to keep you healthy, your doctor may recommend dialysis treatments. Dialysis is the most effective way to treat kidney disease. It's a process that allows artificial regulation of hydration, hormone production, and waste filtration. Essentially, the process conducts the kidneys' duties. Treatment is administered on average for about four hours, three times per week. Frequency depends on the severity of the disease and the patient, and patients undergoing home hemodialysis treatments may opt for longer treatments on fewer days a week.
What Is Hemodialysis?
Hemodialysis is a process that cleans the blood via a machine called a dialyzer which works as an artificial kidney. Before starting treatments, your doctor will create an exit and entry point for the blood, which is usually done by arm surgery. The blood is drawn from the access point and through IV tubes that send it into the dialyzer, which filters out the waste and retains essential nutrients. It then begins pumping the newly cleaned blood back into the body.
This process is done either in a hospital, dialysis center, or, depending on the severity of the disease and the patient's personal situation, at home.
If the kidney disease is caught early enough, hemodialysis may not be needed in the long term. As long as the patient maintains a strict and healthy hemodialysis diet, as instructed by the doctor, the kidneys may heal over time and the patient will see restored functionality. However, if the disease has progressed to severe levels, hemodialysis will be administered for the rest of the patient's life or until they receive a kidney transplant.
What Is Peritoneal Dialysis?
Peritoneal dialysis shares the same basic treatment principles as hemodialysis but is performed differently. Instead of using a dialyzer to clean the blood, peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of your abdomen as a filter. Treatments are done with a special cleansing fluid called dialysate that flows into your abdomen using a catheter. The catheter is usually inserted near the belly button and will require about a month to heal before starting treatments. Patients receiving peritoneal dialysis will require some education as they perform the treatments independently from their homes.
There are two types of peritoneal dialysis; Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) and Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD). With CAPD, the dialysate is administered via the catheter into the abdomen, left for several hours to clean the blood, and then later drained. The administration and draining process takes around 30 minutes and is done between 3-5 times daily. During this time, the patient can continue their day as usual.
APD is similar to CAPD, except treatments are done with a machine while the patient sleeps. The machine connects to the patient’s catheter, fills it with dialysate, lets the cleansing fluid sit for a while, and drains it into a sterile bag which can be emptied in the morning. APD treatments usually take 10 to 12 hours and don’t require patients to be connected to the machine at any other point during the day.
While receiving peritoneal dialysis, your doctor will likely recommend different tests to measure the treatment’s efficacy. These tests help determine if any changes are needed to your treatment routines, such as increasing the number of daily exchanges or the amount of dialysate used with each treatment.
Hemodialysis Vs. Peritoneal Dialysis: Which One Is Right for You?
Various factors play a role in which dialysis treatment you and your doctor decide is right for you. These factors often include your lifestyle, line of work, disease severity, and personal preferences. Your kidney specialist will explain the pros and cons of each type of dialysis to find what's best for you.
Here’s a general overview of the pros and cons of each dialysis type.
Advantages of Hemodialysis
Disadvantages of Hemodialysis
Advantages of Peritoneal Dialysis
Disadvantages of Peritoneal Dialysis
Dialysis Treatments in Milwaukee
The most significant advantage of both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis is that they help patients live healthier and longer lives. At Milwaukee Nephrologists, your health and quality of life are our first priority. Our board-certified physicians are experts in their field and will work with you to develop a treatment plan that addresses your needs and fits your lifestyle.
If you or a loved one suffer from or are at risk for kidney disease, we’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney disease or kidney failure, your doctor might recommend hemodialysis for treatment. When your kidneys no longer function properly, hemodialysis, also simply known as dialysis, helps by clearing waste and excess fluids from your blood. Dialysis is the most common treatment for kidney failure and has many benefits that can assist people to live longer and healthier lives.
What Is Hemodialysis and How Does It Work?
If you and your doctor decide that hemodialysis is right for you, you’ll need to start preparing for treatment at least several weeks before your first procedure. The most important part of the preparation process involves a procedure to create a vascular access point on your body. This allows for blood to be safely removed and returned to your circulation as part of the dialysis process. Most access points are created on an arm, as they provide the easiest and safest points of entry. The access point needs time to heal before you begin treatment.
During the dialysis procedure, two tubes are connected to the patient via the vascular access point. The blood travels through one tube and is filtered through the dialyzer where excess waste and fluids are removed before returning to the patient’s body via the other tube. The process effectively replicates the functions of healthy kidneys and is beneficial for most patients with renal diseases.
Most hemodialysis treatments are performed at either hospitals or dialysis clinics, but home dialysis is also an option. You and your doctor will develop a treatment plan that includes which location is best for your needs.
Dialysis treatments are needed three times a week. Each treatment usually lasts between 3-5 hours. Patients receiving home hemodialysis may choose to do treatments 4-7 days a week but with shorter sessions.
In between treatments, it’s important to follow a hemodialysis diet to help you get the most benefits from dialysis. A hemodialysis diet should be rich in protein, calcium, and carbohydrates while limiting the intake of phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and fluids.
Advantages of Hemodialysis
Patients receiving dialysis usually notice health benefits very quickly after starting treatment. Some of the main benefits of hemodialysis include:
Potential Risks and Disadvantages of Hemodialysis
Although hemodialysis has many benefits, like any medical treatment, it also has potential risks that might not make it the best treatment option for everyone. Some potential risks and disadvantages of hemodialysis include:
Dialysis Treatments with Milwaukee Nephrologists
Although there are some disadvantages, you don't have to stop living a normal life because of hemodialysis treatments. The staff at Milwaukee Nephrologists work to provide accessible dialysis treatments to prioritize patients’ quality of life above all else. If you’re living with kidney disease and are wondering if dialysis is right for you, contact Milwaukee Nephrologists today for a consultation.
If you’ve been having health issues related to your kidneys or the renal system (also known as the urinary system), or have experienced symptoms such as swelling in your feet, ankles, or legs, fatigue, itchy skin, or recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs), it might be time to consider seeing a nephrologist.
Nephrologists are medical specialists who deal with the evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases that involve the kidneys and the rest of the renal system. The kidneys are a pivotal organ, and their health and function have a massive impact on your overall health.
Nephrologists may diagnose and treat various kidney-related conditions, as well as recommend diets and perform transplants or other operations. If you’re not sure whether seeing a nephrologist is right for you, talk to your primary care provider and consider the following common indicators that it’s time to see a nephrologist.
Six Reasons to See a Nephrologist
There’s no Wrong Time to See a Nephrologist
While there are numerous reasons to see a nephrologist, at the end of the day, the best reason to plan an appointment is to maintain and protect your kidney health. Kidney disease is frequently referred to as the ‘silent killer’ because its symptoms are so often missed, or detected only when the disease has progressed to a critical stage. In fact, 90% of people with CKD don’t even know they have it; by the time obvious symptoms begin to show, your kidneys’ function can have deteriorated significantly.
While there’s no cure for kidney disease, early detection can give you and your nephrologist time to make changes to your lifestyle that can help preserve your health and prevent the condition from worsening.
Milwaukee Nephrologists Are Here For Kidney Health
Take control of your health. If you’re concerned about your kidneys, contact the experts at Milwaukee Nephrologists today to schedule a consultation, or talk to your primary care physician today about kidney health.
Chronic kidney disease and kidney failure are two frightening health prospects. They can drain you of energy, make you feel sluggish, and force you into highly-restrictive lifestyles. If you or a loved one is going through this, you want solutions.
Naturally, you’ll consider a kidney transplant. However, assessing the benefits and risks of different kidney treatments can be overwhelming. But with the right information, it doesn’t need to be.
In this blog, we’ll break things down and give an overview of some of the pros and cons of kidney transplant. With this in mind, you may have more context to confidently make informed treatment decisions for yourself or a loved one.
Kidney Transplants 101
Before we get to the benefits and risks of kidney transplants, let’s take a look at some of the basic things that must happen before a transplant.
The process of a kidney transplant begins with eligibility. Patients seeking a kidney transplant must either currently be on dialysis or immediately facing the prospect of it, and also be free of cancer or other diseases that could lead to negative health outcomes following the transplant.
Second, eligible patients must be fully prepared to undergo the transplant procedure. This means you not only have to be healthy enough to be operated on, but you also must be financially prepared to cover the operation, and have a support network in place that can assist you during recovery.
Finally, when you’re fully cleared and ready for a transplant, you are registered and placed on a waiting list. How soon you receive a transplant depends on factors such as blood type and body size, as these are essential to the success of the transplant. If a family member is a match and willing to donate a kidney, this is typically the fastest route to transplant, and also tends to produce the best result.
Benefits of Kidney Transplant
The benefits of a kidney transplant are huge, and can literally change your life:
Risks and Disadvantages of Kidney Transplant
Kidney transplants are a remarkable health solution. They offer many people a new lease on life and the opportunity to get back to the things they love. However, there are risks involved with the transplant process.
Talk to a Nephrologist Today to Learn if a Kidney Transplant is Right for You