Kidney doctors: what does a nephrologist do?

What is a nephrologist?

A nephrologist is a doctor who specialises in the management of conditions that affect the kidneys.

What do nephrologists treat?

  • Kidney failure of any cause
  • Kidney transplants
  • Dialysis

Nephrologists manage the many conditions that cause renal impairment and renal (kidney) failure. Their goal is to optimise renal function.

If a patient’s kidneys fail completely they will need dialysis – essentially artificial kidneys.

Patients survive many years on dialysis, either chronic ambulatory peritoneal dialysis or haemodialysis.

Nephrologists care for these patients and any complications of their disease. They also manage patients who have had kidney transplants.


The treatment offered by nephrologists varies depending on the cause of the kidney problem and its severity. They may:

  • Give medications alone
  • Initiate and maintain dialysis – artificial kidney function, either CAPD or haemodialysis
  • Arrange renal transplant and then manage that in the long term

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What to expect at your first appointment


Your nephrologist will begin by asking about your:

  • Symptoms and their duration
  • Severity
  • Events leading up to your current illness
  • Past medical problems
  • Medications
  • Family history
  • Allergies
  • Social history


Your neprologist will begin with a general examination, checking your pulse and blood pressure, looking at your hands, arms, eyes and neck.

Then they are likely to examine your heart and lungs and finally your abdomen to try to determine the cause, severity and complications of your kidney problems.

Specialty areas of interest

  • Paediatric nephrology
  • Renal transplant
  • Dialysis

Associated tests

Training and qualifications



A: Use HealthEngine to find and book your next Nephrologist appointment. Click on the following locations to find a Nephrologist clinic in your state or territory.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.