: a medical specialty concerned with the kidneys and especially with their structure, functions, or diseases
Branch of medicine dealing with kidney function and diseases. An understanding of kidney physiology is important not only in treating kidney disease but in knowing the effect of drugs, diet, and hypertension on kidney disease, and vice versa. The first scientific observations of the kidney were made in the mid-17th century by Lorenzo Bellini (1643–1704) and Marcello Malpighi; Carl Ludwig was the first to elaborate on their true physiological function (1844). A key development in nephrology was the permanent arteriovenous shunt (1960), which made repeated hemodialysis feasible, instantly changing the outlook for chronic-renal-disease patients from certain death to 90% survival. See alsodialysis, kidney failure, kidney stone, kidney transplant, nephron.