nephrology
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S: UCLA – http://nephrology.ucla.edu/ (last access: 10 February 2016); http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291440-1797(last access: 10 February 2016).

N: 1. 1839, from nephro- (before vowels nephr-, word-forming element meaning “kidney, kidneys,” from nephro-, comb. form of Greek nephros “kidney”) + -ology (word-forming element indicating “branch of knowledge, science,” now the usual form of -logy. Originally used c. 1800 in nonce formations (commonsensology, etc.), it gained legitimacy by influence of the proper formation in geology, mythology, etc., where the -o- is a stem vowel in the previous element). Related: Nephrologist.
2. Nephrology, branch of medicine concerned with the study of kidney functions and the treatment of kidney diseases. The first scientific observations of the kidney were made by Lorenzo Bellini and Marcello Malpighi in the middle of the 17th century, but true physiological understanding of the kidney began with Carl Ludwig’s 1844 hypothesis that blood pressure forces waste fluids out of the renal capillaries into the ducts (nephrons) of the kidney. In 1899, Ernest Starling further explained the function of the kidney by proposing that osmotic pressures helped to concentrate the urine there; this theory was confirmed by A.N. Richards in the 1920s.
3. The kidneys are vital for life with their complex network of blood vessels and intricate network of tubes and tubules that filter blood of its waste products and excess water.
The kidneys maintain the fluid, electrolyte, and acid-base regulation that are altered by several disease conditions as well as drugs and toxins.
4. Nephrology deals with study of the normal working of the kidneys as well as its diseases. The diseases that come under the scope of nephrology include:

  • Glomerular disorders that affect the tiny filtering systems of the kidneys called the glomerulus
  • Urine abnormalities such as excess excretion of protein, sugar, blood, casts, crystals etc.
  • Tubulointerstitial diseases affecting the tubules in the kidneys
  • Renal vascular diseases affecting the blood vessel networks within the kidneys
  • Renal failure that can be sudden or acute or long term or chronic
  • Kidney and bladder stones
  • Kidney infections
  • Cancers of the kidneys, bladder, and urethra
  • Effects of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure on kidneys
  • Acid base imbalances
  • Nephrotic syndrome and nephritis
  • Ill effects of drugs and toxins on the kidneys
  • Dialysis and its long term complications – dialysis includes hemodialysis as well as peritoneal dialysis
  • Autoimmune diseases including autoimmune vasculitis, lupus, etc.
  • Polycystic kidneys diseases where large cysts or fluid filled sacs are formed within the kidney impairing its functions – this is a congenital and inherited or genetic condition
  • Hydronephrosis.

S: 1. OED – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=nephrology; http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=nephro-&allowed_in_frame=0; http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=-ology&allowed_in_frame=0 (last access: 10 February 2016). 2. EncBrit – http://www.britannica.com/topic/nephrology (last access: 10 February 2016). 3 & 4. http://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Nephrology.aspx (last access: 10 February 2016).

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CR: Alport syndrome, biopsy, glomerulonephritis, pyelonephritis, renal colic, urology.