Modern medicine is divided into many different specialties. Your primary physician may refer you to a urology doctor if you develop problems of the urinary system. Urology is a specialty that deals with diseases of the male and female urinary system and also the male reproductive system. Urology doctors are referred to as urologists.
Urologists are trained to diagnose and treat patients who have medical problems involving the organs of the urinary system. This system includes the bladder, urethra, ureters and kidneys. Urologists are also trained in diseases and disorders of the male reproductive system, including the penis, scrotum and prostate gland. The urology specialty sometimes overlaps with other medical specialties such as gynecology, nephrology, gastroenterology, oncology, neurology, endocrinology and even pediatric surgery. The urologist will work with other medical specialists to achieve the best outcome for the patient.
What Urology Doctors Do
Urologists treat a wide number of conditions and diseases that affect the urinary system. Patients may require the help of a urology doctor for congenital malformations that occur at birth. They may treat chronic urinary infections, urinary incontinence or other disorders of the bladder such as bladder stones or bladder cancer. Urinary doctors also treat problems of the kidneys such as kidney infections, stones, tumors or cysts. Problems can also occur in the ureters, the tubes that drain urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Patients may suffer from reflux of urine or blockage of the ureters. In addition, urologists diagnose and treat problems of the male reproductive system, such as prostate infections or prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, testicular cancer and erectile dysfunction. They also repair injuries to the penis or scrotum.
How Urologists Diagnose Problems
Diagnosing urinary system problems usually begins with a physical exam and complete medical history, through which the urologist can determine information about your current state of health. Urine and blood tests help the physician to determine if infection has occurred. Cystoscopy is a diagnostic tool that allows the doctor to see inside the bladder and urethra. X-rays can help to show obstructions and deformities. Urodynamic tests show how well the bladder can empty itself of urine. CT scans can help doctors find growths and cysts that may be causing problems. For problems of the prostate, the physician may order a prostate specific antigen test. Biopsy tests are done on any unusually tissue that is found in the urinary system to determine if cells are cancerous. Penile tests are done to determine problems of erectile dysfunction.
Treating Urinary System Problems
Once the urology doctor has determined the source of the problem, he will decide on the best course of treatment to restore health and function. If infection is at fault, he will determine the best antibiotic treatment to kill the bacteria. Congenital problems of the urinary tract may be restored during surgery. Kidney stones may be dissolved with medication or broken up with ultrasound. Growths and cysts may require removal using laparascopic surgical procedures in which a small incision is made in the body and a laparascope inserted to allow the surgeon a good view of the affected area. Cancers of the urinary system may require treatment with chemotherapy or radiation. Medications may be prescribed for problems of erectile dysfunction. Other options for treatment include penile pumps or implants. Occasionally, vascular surgery of the penis is required.