Urology is a surgical speciality that deals with the treatment of conditions involving the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs.
People specializing in the field of urology are called urologists, healthcare professionals who are trained to diagnose, detect and treat this group of disorders and diseases.
The disorders that may be treated by urologists include those involving the kidneys, the ureters (tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder), the adrenal glands, the bladder and the urethra (the tube that passes urine out of the body from the bladder). In males, a urologist may also treat conditions of the testes, epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles, prostate and penis. The field of urology involves the medical management of conditions such as urinary tract infection and prostate enlargement through to the surgical management of conditions such as bladder cancer, prostate cancer, kidney stones and stress incontinence.
In the case of certain conditions such as cancer of the urinary tract, urologists may need to work in conjunction with oncologists or radiotherapists. They may also need to collaborate with nephrologists who deal with kidney conditions, gynaecologists who deal with the female reproductive system and endocrinologists who are concerned with conditions of the endocrine system and hormone disorders. Urologists may also collaborate with practitioners of pediatric surgery and colorectal surgery.
Urologists undergo post-graduate training for five years, completing 12 months in general surgery and 36 months in clinical urology. The remaining time is spent training in general surgery, clinical urology or a discipline that is relevant to urology. There are several specialist areas that can be practised after completion of a urology degree. Some of these include:
Endourology deals with the closed manipulation of the urinary tract. The field has grown to now include minimally invasive surgical procedures. Procedures are carried out using endoscopes inserted into the urinary tract and examples include prostate surgery, stone removal surgery and simple urethral or ureteral surgeries.
This deals with genitourinary malignancies such as cancers of the kidney, adrenal glands, prostate, bladder, ureters, testicles or penis.
Neururology concerns the management of conditions that involve the nervous control of the genitourinary system or abnormal urination. Examples of neurological conditions that may lead to these conditions include Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke and spinal cord injuries.
This involves the correction of genitourinary problems arising in children such as undescended testes or cryptorchidism, underdeveloped genitalia and vesicoureteral reflux.
Andrology focuses on disorders of the male reproductive system such as erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory disorders, infertility and vasectomy reversal.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc