Urology is the medical specialty pertaining to the scientific, clinical, and surgical aspects of diseases of the genitourinary tract in men, women, and children. Urologists are trained in both medical and surgical management of urinary tract disorders.
You should see a urologist for the following problems:
Blood in the urine: This is referred to as hematuria and can actually be seen in the urine or diagnosed with a microscopic analysis of a urine sample and is an absolute reason to see a urologist. Possible causes of hematuria are bladder cancer, kidney cancer, severe urinary tract infection (UTI), kidney stones, prostate cancer, or diseases inherent in kidney tissue. Hematuria can occur intermittently even if there is a serious cause for it; therefore, blood in the urine one time is enough to see a urologist.
Frequent urinary tract infections: In women, this may be an indicator of an anatomic abnormality the person was born with, kidney stones, bacteria embedded in the tissue of the urinary tract, or poor voiding habits. In men, UTI’s may be caused by any of these or possibly long-term prostate gland infections. UTI’s are generally first treated by primary care physicians, then possibly a urologist.
Elevated PSA test: An elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) test can be the first indication of possible prostate cancer in men. It may also be caused by other prostate conditions, and a urologist is the best source to make this determination. Although there is controversy about the use of PSA tests for prostate cancer screening, the PSA remains the most useful blood test for cancer in all of oncology.
Abnormal prostate exam: A prostate exam is also an important part of prostate cancer screening for men. The primary care physician or urologist performs a digital rectal exam to rule out abnormalities such as a nodule, unusual firmness, or one side of the prostate being larger than the other, which are possible indicators of prostate cancer.
Kidney mass: A mass found on the kidney with an ultrasound or CAT scan must be further evaluated by a urologist. Cure rates from kidney cancer are very high if found at early stages.
Urinary tract stones or urolithiasis: Urologists specialize in determining if a painful stone will pass out the body with natural process or if surgery must be performed. Surgery for kidney stones can usually be done successfully without making an incision. Urologists are experts in providing those who are prone to kidney stones with techniques to avoid recurrence.
Testis cancer: This is the most common solid tumor in young men and very curable if found early. It grows quickly, however, and a male with a testicular mass should be seen by his primary care physician or urologist as soon as possible.
Male infertility: Urologists are experts in evaluating and treating men when a couple is unable to conceive. Many causes of male infertility are curable and urologists employ assisted fertility techniques to help couples with conception.
Erectile dysfunction: This is a common problem once men enter elderly age ranges. It may be an indication of a hormonal problem or significant cardiovascular problem in younger men. Urologists treat all forms of erectile dysfunction.
Urinary incontinence: One in three women live with uncontrolled loss of urine, and urologists provide expert care with medical, surgical, and behavioral remedies for this uncomfortable and embarrassing problem. Men also suffer incontinence and should be seen by a urologist.
Children suffer from urinary tract problems, too! There are many congenital problems that can be addressed by a urologist with medical and surgical therapies to help ensure that urination, kidney function, and fertility problems can be normalized. Children with kidney stones, incontinence (beyond potty training years), and urinary tract infection problems should see a urologist experienced in working with children. There are many urinary tract cancers in children and these are best managed by a urologist.