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Urology FAQ: Nine Need-to-Knows

Last Updated 3/29/2011 1:03:36 PM

What is a urologist?

Urologists are physician surgeons who specialize in the evaluation and treatment of disorders of the male and female urinary tract and male reproductive organs. Urologists see patients in an office setting and perform procedures and surgeries in an operating room.

What are the most common procedures urologists perform?

Urinary tract

The most common procedures urologists perform in an office setting include vasectomy (permanent male birth control), cystoscopy (visual scope inspection of the urethra and bladder (and prostate in men), and in-office treatments for benign prostate hypertrophy. The most common procedures/surgeries performed in an operating room setting include removal of the kidney or prostate due to cancer, transurethral surgeries for benign prostate hypertrophy and bladder tumors, removal of kidney/ureteral stones using shockwave-generating machines or lasers, and anti-incontinence surgeries for both men and women. Urologists also perform vasectomy reversals and placement of penile prostheses.

When should I see a urologist?

One should consult a urologist when he or she has a medical condition affecting his or her urinary system or, if it is a man, his reproductive system. A man or woman should see a urologist if he or she experiences blood in urine; recurrent urinary tract infections; poor bladder control, including urine leakage; difficulty urinating; or if there is suspicion of kidney stones due to flank pain. A man should see a urologist for an annual prostate health check and if he has erectile dysfunction or desires a vasectomy.

How can I urinate less frequently at night?

Frequent urination at night can be due to several reasons including the inability to store urine in the bladder, the inability to empty the bladder completely, lifestyle choices, the use of certain medications and urinary infection.

It's painful to urinate; what could be the problem?

Infections in the prostate or bladder are the most common causes of painful urination. Obstruction in the urethra or prostate, and kidney and bladder stones are well-known causes of painful urination. Chronic pain conditions of the male lower urinary tract as a result of diet and lifestyle are other causes of painful urination.

There's blood in my urine. What could be causing this?

Blood in the urine can be a sign of a serious underlying condition, or it can be due to an easily treatable cause. Urinary infection is the most common cause of blood in the urine. Kidney/bladder stones, cancer of the urinary system, injury to the urinary system and certain lifestyle choices can lead to blood in the urine. The exact cause can only be determined after a thorough evaluation by an urologist.

What causes kidney stones?

KidneyKidney stones form when certain minerals and substances in the urine reach a high enough concentration that they crystallize and form stones. This can result from dehydration, metabolic disorders or bowel disease. Other factors that can increase formation of stones include family history of stones, dietary or genetic factors and recurrent urinary tract infections.

How can I prevent kidney stones?

Start by drinking more water. Drink enough water so that your urine is clear to light yellow. Dark urine probably means you are not drinking enough water. For people who have more than one stone episode, chemical analysis of the stone and a metabolic workup, including a 24-hour urine collection, should be performed to look for stone formation risk factors. Dietary and medication recommendations can be given based on information from this workup.

What's the best way to treat kidney stones?

Treatment of kidney stones depends on several factors, including the size and location of a stone, how much pain someone with a stone has, and whether there is a urinary or kidney infection present at the same time. Treatment options include attempting to pass the stone spontaneously with the help of medicines, placement of a stent in the ureter bypassing the stone, inserting a small scope and using a laser and basket to remove the stone, or delivery of shock waves externally to fragment the stone for later passage of the pieces.

For a physician referral, please call the El Camino Hospital Health Line at: 800-216-5556. To reach the Men's Health Program, call our program coordinator at 888-551-9100.

Also, see our frequently asked questions about erectile dysfunction.

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