What is a Urologist?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

The word urology is the name of a surgical subspecialty that comes from Greek words meaning “the study of urine.” A urologist, then, is a physician who focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of and injuries to the urinary tract in women and the urogenital system in men.

Urologists study the human urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra.
Urologists study the human urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra.

In order to become a urologist in the United States, after completing an approved medical school, a candidate must complete a urology residency program that has been approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and that lasts at least five years. Of these five years, a year of focus in general surgery is required, three years focus in clinical urology, and a minimum of six months that is either additional training in general surgery or urology or training in a related discipline. In the final year, the person must serve as the senior or chief resident, under appropriate supervision. In other parts of the world, standards are set by the relevant governing body, for example, the Urological Society of India, the Urological Society of Australasia, or the British Association of Urological Surgeons.

Kidney stones are a common problem treated by a urologist.
Kidney stones are a common problem treated by a urologist.

A urologist may deal with a variety of conditions, some particular to pediatric patients and some unique to adult patients. For example, while many problems may affect children and adults alike, certain congenital abnormalities are generally discovered and treated early. Neonatal urological issues include ambiguous genitalia, bladder exstrophy, cloacal exstrophy — which often occurs in conjunction with spina bifida, and neonatal testicular torsion. Enuresis, or bedwetting, is a symptom that can result from a variety of causes, but is another issue that is usually confined to childhood, though some adults do have issues with bedwetting.

A urologist may diagnose the cause of blood in the urine.
A urologist may diagnose the cause of blood in the urine.

Adults, but not children, may need to see a urologist to obtain treatment for issues such as Cushing’s Syndrome; Conn’s Syndrome; prostate, penile, or testicular cancer; interstitial cystitis; male infertility; erectile dysfunction; premature ejaculation; vasectomy; and ureteral stones. Conditions that may occur across ages groups include symptoms such as hematuria or blood in the urine, kidney issues, such as renal failure and cystic diseases of the kidneys, and bladder issues, such as neurogenic bladder, bladder fistula, or paruresis,

There are eight subspecialties of urology that have been specialized by the American Urological Association (AUA). A urologist may specialize in erectile dysfunction (impotence), female urology, male infertility, neurourology, pediatric urology, renal transplantation, urinary tract stones, or urologic oncology (tumors).

A urologist may use a variety of equipment and perform a variety of procedures. Some of the equipment a urologist may use includes catheters, fluoroscopes, radiograph machines, radium emanation tubes, and cystoscopes. Treatments may include brachytherapy, cryotherapy, lithotripsy, high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), laparoscopy, photodynamic therapy, and laser techniques.

A urologist may analyze urine samples to detect the presence of bacteria.
A urologist may analyze urine samples to detect the presence of bacteria.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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