Urologist vs Nephrologist: What’s the Difference?

Caring for your kidneys could involve several specialists, but when it comes to a urologist vs a nephrologist, there are some key differences. Both are available to support you, but a urologist considers symptoms that extend beyond the kidneys, such as those affecting the bladder, urinary system, and even prostate.

Read on to discover what the differences are between the two disciplines and how to decide which one is best for you.

The Role of a Urologist

A urologist diagnoses and treats diseases of the kidneys and urinary system in both men and women, as well as disorders of the male reproductive system. The most common male-focused disorders include:

Many types of issues can be diagnosed and treated by a urologist. A urologist will likely order tests to diagnose your condition and determine the best course of treatment. Physical examinations may be included in some of these tests. For males and females, these will be different. If you’re male, your doctor may do a rectal examination. Pelvic exams may be necessary for women. 

Related: Questions to Ask Your Urologist About Erectile Dysfunction

Another option is to perform a urinalysis. A blood test and a semen sample are required for this procedure. The diagnosis and treatment of urinary disorders and dysfunction can also be achieved by using imaging tests, such as ultrasound or computed tomography (CT).

Urologist vs Nephrologist: What’s the Difference

After understanding the basic function of a urologist, let’s discuss what a nephrologist does and how they’re different.


Nephrologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the kidney and urinary system. Among these are: 

  • Kidney inflammation
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes

In addition, they diagnose and treat side effects of medication that affect the kidneys, along with complications linked to other diseases that affect how the kidneys filter and cleanse blood.

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There are a number of electrolyte disorders treated by nephrologists — including low sodium, potassium, and calcium levels. Those with kidney stones are diagnosed and prescribed medications to prevent them from coming back again. They also recommend non-surgical medical treatments for eliminating these disorders. 

A Comparison

In medical terms, nephrology is a subspecialty within internal medicine rather than urology. Therefore, nephrologists are not surgeons. High blood pressure, for example, can also cause kidney problems or contribute to them, so nephrologists must also be able to manage conditions elsewhere in the body that cause kidney problems or result from kidney problems. In contrast to nephrology, urology is a surgical specialty. 

What is the Best Option for Me?

The question most people often ask is when should they see a nephrologist or a urologist for kidney problems? As both doctors treat kidney conditions, this can be somewhat confusing. In reality, it depends on the conditions.

You should consult a urologist if you have issues with your urinary tract, which includes your urethra, bladder, and kidneys. However, urologists treat only specific kidney conditions. In addition to performing surgery, they can remove cancerous cells and remove kidney stones. Nephrology, however, is a subspecialty of internal medicine that treats disorders of kidney function. Your condition may require both types of treatment, depending on its severity.

Related: 8 Reasons for Men to See a Urologist

As nephrologists treat conditions affecting the kidneys, you may want to consider having your healthcare provider refer you to one. Several conditions can affect the kidneys, including hypertension, fluid retention, electrolyte imbalance, and lupus. Therefore, if you experience any of these symptoms, you might want to see a nephrologist.

If you experience any discomfort or bodily disarray, you should consult a healthcare professional. A healthcare provider can detect the underlying causes of some urinary symptoms, preventing unnecessary or inaccurate diagnoses.

Jumpstart Your Urinary Health at USOC

When determining your health care needs, it is important to understand the differences between a urologist and a nephrologist. A urologist handles many things that a nephrologist does not, so if you are experiencing any urinary or kidney problems, it is crucial to seek the advice of a health professional to get the proper referral. 

Our commitment at USOC is to provide the best urological care to ensure your health and vitality — from urinary tract infections to prostate cancer prevention and treatment. To schedule your consultation at a clinic near you, click on the button below. We look forward to assisting you on your journey to wellness!

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