Urologists diagnose, treat and monitor disorders of the urinary tract and the external genital organs, which can include kidney, ureter, urethra, bladder, and prostate issues. They also conduct related surgery, like procedures performed on the adrenal glands (which sit on top of your kidneys).
Common Concerns a Urologist Treats
You may need to see a urologist for a number of reasons. Some common disorders treated by urologists include:
- recurrent urinary tract infections
- urinary incontinence; overactive bladder
- interstitial cystitis
- enlarged prostate
- kidney stones
- male and female infertility
- sexual dysfunction (male or female)
- cancers throughout the urinary tract (kidney, bladder, prostate, and testicular cancers)
Although urologists are also trained to treat penile cancer, fortunately, it is an extremely rare urological cancer in the United States.
Though the listed concerns are among the issues urologists contend with most of the time, those with special training in reconstruction may also fix urinary tract or genitalia abnormalities present at birth and intervene in serious accident situations, such as car wrecks (particularly if they have trauma experience).
Pediatric Urology Care
Pediatric urologists most frequently deal with urination (also known as voiding) problems in children. This could be something as well-known an issue as bedwetting, also referred to as enuresis. It can also include a condition known as vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), where urine goes backward from the bladder to the kidney. This sometimes results from recurrent urinary tract infections and, if treated unsuccessfully, can cause kidney scarring.
You may be surprised as a parent to hear that there are several other reasons why your child may need to see a urologist. If your pediatrician or hospital recommends one, it may be because of one of these concerns:
- undescended testicles
- hypospadias -- a birth defect where the meatus (where urine exits from the urethra) is located on the underside of the penis, rather than the tip
- bladder exstrophy
- epispadias, a birth defect where the bladder and urethra do not form normally and the pelvic bones do not sit together
In cases of epispadias, an orthopedic surgeon first operates on the pelvic bones before urinary repair is done by a urologist. Because this is a rare disorder, it is generally recommended that parents take their children to centers with large pediatric facilities with sufficient expertise in this specialized area.
Treating Your Urology ConditionWhile urology is its own medical specialty, there are additional subspecialties within it. So, you should not be surprised if your urologist sends you to another colleague in his field who has training that's more aligned with your specific problem. In addition, depending on your health issue, your urologist may need to work in conjunction with a doctor from an entirely different medical specialty to coordinate your care.
For example, if you are being treated for a urologic cancer, your urologist may refer you to a urologic oncologist who specializes in all cancers of the urinary tract or even a specific cancer. Your doctor will work along with a medical oncologist, a radiation therapist, and/or a radiologist, as well, to make sure that all physicians are working together to address the concerns you face.
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"What Is Urology?" American Urological Association. Accessed: December 2009.