Nephrologist vs. Urologist

Unless you deal with the specialists on a regular basis or have a background in medicine or Latin, it is common to wonder what the difference between a nephrologist and urologist is. Because so many people can’t tell you what sets a nephrologist vs. urologist apart, it can be challenging to know which specialist you need to make an appointment with. You can always check with your doctor, but by learning the difference between the two professions, you will no longer need to double check. To make matters more complicated, the paths of these two doctors frequently cross. That means that in a given situation, you may need to see an urologist, a nephrologist, or both.

Comparison Chart

The following comparison chart will give you a basic overview of the differences between a nephrologist and urologist.





These specialists deal with disorders related to the kidneys.

These are specialized surgeons who deal with disorders that are related to the urinary tract.


Nephrologists don’t perform surgeries.

Urologists perform surgeries when required.

To summarize, nephrologists won’t be performing a surgery on you, but urologists might. If you have an issue with your kidneys, you should see a nephrologist, but if the issue is with your urinary tract, you should see an urologist. If both areas are affected, you may need to see both.

Nephrologist vs. Urologist

Nephrology and Nephrologist

Nephrology is considered a specialty within the field of Internal Medicine. Nephrologists are physicians with specific training to diagnose and manage diseases of the kidneys. Because they are not surgeons, they will rely on non-surgical methods to treat the kidneys. These methods may include dialysis, administering medication, balancing fluids within the body, regulating electrolytes, and regulating blood pressure.

When to Refer Patients to a Nephrologist

Some of the most common diseases that nephrologists work with are electrolyte imbalances within the body, high blood pressure, acute kidney failure, chronic urinary tract infections, and CKD (chronic kidney disease).

Urology and Urologists

As compared to nephrology, urology is a surgical as well as medical specialty. It focuses on issues with the urinary tract. As such, urologists have training to diagnose, manage, and treat urological disorders in their patients. They specialize in the female and male urinary tracts and this includes the urethra, urinary bladder, ureters, adrenal glands, and kidneys. They will also typically treat a patient’s male reproductive system, which includes the penis, prostate, seminal vesicles, vas deferens, epididymis, and testes. This can be confusing since nephrologists also treat the kidneys. To remember the difference between a nephrologist vs. urologist, consider that nephrologists focus on the kidneys while urologists treat the kidneys as well as other organs in the urinary tract.

Because urology covers a vast area of information and medical treatments, it frequently overlaps with more than just nephrology. It can also overlap with other medical fields that it is closely related to such as endocrinology, gastroenterology, pediatric surgery, andrology, gynecology, and oncology.

When to Refer Patients to an Urologist?

It is common for patients to be referred to urologists for a range of issues. The most common include urethra disorder, urinary bladder problems, diseases involving the ureters, anatomical defects affecting the kidneys, adrenal problems, and ailments affecting the male reproductive organs.

Note: It should be clear that there is not a clear division between a nephrologist vs. urologist. As such, they sometimes collaborate on the same cases when a patient has a condition involving one of the common aspects they treat.

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