What Is Urology?
Urology is an area of medicine that deals with the male and female urinary tract as well as the reproductive system in men. The organs covered by urology include the kidney, ureters, urinary bladder, urethra, and the male reproductive organs (testes, epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles, prostate and penis). Physicians who specialize in urology are also surgeons, and are not only trained to evaluate and diagnose urologic problems but also to perform surgeries and other procedures to treat various conditions, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement) in men and urinary incontinence in women. While physicians trained in urology are able to treat a wide range of urologic and reproductive disorders, some urologists choose to receive additional training in order to pursue one of several fields regarded as sub-specialties.
Urologists are first trained as physicians, then receive additional training for at least one year as general surgeons; actual training in urology/urologic surgery requires an additional three to four years. Most urologists then elect to become board certified, which subsequently requires one and one half years of clinical practice and successful passage of vigorous certification examinations.
People seek out advice or treatment from urologists for many reasons. The most common of these are diseases or conditions involving the urinary tract system, such as kidney stones, bladder infections or incontinence that have not responded to treatment. Other reasons for consulting a urologist include congenital defects or developmental problems with the urinary tract.
The evolution of medical technology has enabled urologists to provide advanced medical and surgical treatments that enable the effective treatment of a wide range of conditions with less risk and faster recoveries for patients. Conditions that, even ten years ago, would have required a major surgical procedure with several days of hospitalization and weeks of recovery at home are now performed on an outpatient basis, with minimum risk to the patient and a rapid return to normal activities. Advancements in medications have also kept pace with those in other areas of urology. Within the last several years new medications have been introduced that provide effective treatment for a range of common urologic problems. In many cases these medicines are able to reverse the progress of certain conditions, such as BPH, or at least postpone the need for surgery.