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Nephrology is the study of normal kidney function and kidney disease, the preservation of kidney health, and the treatment of kidney disease, from diet and medication to dialysis. Nephrology also studies systemic conditions that affect the kidneys, such as diabetes and autoimmune disease.
History and physical examination are central to the diagnostic workup in nephrology.
The history typically includes the present illness, family history, general medical history, diet, medication use, drug use and occupation.
The physical examination typically includes an assessment of volume state, blood pressure, heart, lungs, peripheral arteries, joints, abdomen and flank.
Kidney problems can have significant impact on quality and length of life, and so psychological support, health education and advanced care planning play key roles in nephrology.
When the kidneys are no longer able to sustain the demands of the body, end-stage kidney failure is said to have occurred.
Without dialysis, death from kidney failure will eventually result. Dialysis is an artificial method of replacing some kidney function to prolong life.
At present, renal transplantation is the most effective treatment for end-stage kidney failure although its worldwide availability is limited by lack of availability of donor organs.