Nephr Medical Term: Etymology, Meaning and 15+ Uses

Every now and then, you come across different medical terms in your studies and during clinical rotations and wonder what they could mean, their origin, and instances in which they are could be used. One of them is the Nephr medical term which we are going to discuss in this post.

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The etymology of the Nephr Medical Term

The Nephr medical term is derived from the Greek word “Nephros” which means kidney. The Nephr prefix is used in relation to medical terms that describe structures or pathologies related to the kidney.

The nephr root word cannot only be used as a prefix, but also as an inter-fix. This means that it can be combined with two other morphemes; another prefix and a suffix to still describe something that is happening with or related to the kidney.

Nephr Definition: Information About the Kidney

The kidneys are two retroperitoneal structures that are ordinarily situated between the transverse processes of T12-L3 vertebrae, with the left kidney slightly above the right in position. The upper poles are typically placed more medially and posteriorly than the lower poles.

The kidneys serve significant functions, including filtration and discharge of metabolic byproducts (urea and ammonium); regulation of essential electrolytes, liquid, and acid-base equilibrium; and stimulation of red blood cell formation. They additionally contribute to the management of blood pressure through the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, controlling reabsorption of water and keeping up with the intravascular volume.


The kidneys are bean-shaped and weigh around 150 g in the male and around 135 g in the female. They are normally 10-12 cm long, 5-7 cm in width, and 2-3 cm in thickness.

The relationship of adjoining structures to the kidneys is significant, as depicted below:

  • Superiorly, the suprarenal (adrenal) glands sit adjoining the upper pole of the both kidneys
  • On the right side, the second part of the duodenum (descending part) abuts the medial part of the kidney
  • On the left side, the greater cuvature of the stomach can wrap over the superomedial part of the kidney, and the tail of the pancreas might reach out to overlie the renal hilum
  • The spleen is found foremost to the upper pole and is associated by the splenorenal (lienorenal) tendons
  • Inferiorly to these organs, the colon normally rests anteriorly to the kidneys on the two sides
  • Posteriorly, the stomach covers the upper third of every kidney, with the twelfth rib most normally crossing the upper pole
  • The kidneys sit over the psoas (medially) and the quadratus lumborum muscles (laterally)

List of Medical Terms With the Nephr Root Word

There are many words with the nephr medical term attached to it. All these words are used to describe things pertaining to the kidney. They could be anatomical structures, ongoing disease processes, physiological processes, or terms used in medical education.

These words have been classified in a way that you can distinguish those medical terms where nephr is used as a prefix and where it is used as an interfix.

Words with the Nephr Prefix

  • Nephrology
  • Nephrologist
  • Nephron
  • Nephritis
  • Nephrotoxic
  • Nephropathy
  • Nephrostome
  • Nephrotic
  • Nephritic
  • Nephrectomy
  • Nephridium

Words with the Nephr Interfix

  • Pronephros
  • Pronephrosis
  • Mesonephros
  • Metanephros
  • Glomerulonephritis

Also, Read; Medical Abbreviation PRN: Meaning and Uses

Nephr Definition of Some Terms

Below are the definitions of some of the above nephr medical terms.

  • Nephrology: Nephrology is one of the core medical specialties that deals with the study of, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases affecting the kidney and related functions.
  • Nephrologist: A nephrologist is a medical specialist (a doctor) who has completed a full training on nephrology residency program in an accredited teaching hospital, and now has the full license to be consulted on special medical cases for diseases affecting the kidney.
Nephr medical term: nephrologist
Nephr medical term: Nephrologist
  • Nephron: The nephron is defined as the simplest functional unit of the kidney. It is where all thr activities in the kidney take place.
  • Nephritis: Nephritis is defined as the inflammation of the kidney. This word is formed from the nephr root word and the suffix “itis” which is used to describe an inflammatory process going on in the body.
  • Nephrotoxic: Nephrotoxic is a medical term that is used to describe a substance that is harmful to the kidney. This word is formed by two root words; the nephr prefix as the root word, and ‘toxic’ which means harmful.
  • Nephropathy: A nepropathy is a medical term used to describe a disease process that is on-going in the kidney.
  • Nephrotic: Nephrotic is a medical term used to describe a condition when there is abnormally high levels of protein in the urine, low level of albumin in the blood, and generalized body swelling. A condition when all three signs occur in one person, this is called Nephrotic syndrome. When a urine contains more than 3 grams of protein, it is said to be nephrotic.
  • Nephritic: This is a medical term used to describe the presence of an inflammatory process going on in the kidney. In this condition, there is presence of nephrotic syndrome as described above, but this time with presence of blood cells in the urine.
  • Nephrectomy: This is a medical term used to describe a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the kidney.
  • Pronephros: This is the most primitive structure that appears in the first stage of kidney development in vertebrate mammals. It is one of the three excretory organs that develop in vertebrates.
  • Mesonephros: It is one of the three primitive organs for excretion that appear in vertebrates.
  • Metanephros: It is the most developed of the 3 primitive forms of kidney that appears in vertebrates during their development. It persists till adulthood, and forms part of the adult kidney.
  • Glomerulonephritis: This is a medical term that is used to describe the inflammation of the glomerular part of the nephron. The glomerulus is that part of the nephron that deals with ultra-filtration of waste products.

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Most medical terms we use today were derived from Greek and Latin. Understanding the root word for every medical term you see will help you to know the meaning and be able to define such terms at a glance especially when you have never heard of them before.

The Nephr medical term is derived from the Greek word Neprhros, and means Kidney. This term is used with other suffixes and interfixes to describe an anatomical structure or a condition that is related to the kidney.

To learn more about other medical terms and abbreviations that are worth knowing in your MD journey, visit our medical abbreviation archives.

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