Nephrology is the study and treatment of kidney disease. Doctors,
nurses and technicians all specialize in treating patients with kidney
disorders. Nephrologists treat patients with kidney disorders and manage
transplant protocols in hospitals and for transplant networks. They also
manage dialysis centers and programs. Like other specialists, these
doctors serve an additional residency in their field, beyond the
standard training for a general practitioner. Because kidney disease
affects the entire body, a nephrologist must also have a good grasp on
other aspects of internal medicine, and how renal failure can cause
other body systems to fail.
Kidney disorders may be caused by congenital defects, by disease
or by lifestyle. Nephrology deals with all these disorders, regardless
of their origin. The field even specializes into pediatric nephrology,
which deals exclusively with kidney disease or disorders in children.
Doctors have attempted to treat kidney diseases for centuries,
but like many other medical conditions, it has only been in the past
75-100 years that any real headway has been made in treating these
diseases. New technologies for diagnosing kidney disease, new treatments
and medications have all enabled the nephrologist to treat his or her
patients with a greater degree of success. Joseph Murray performed the
first successful kidney transplant in 1954 and was later awarded a Nobel
Prize for his achievement.