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What is Urology?

Doctors and Medical Specialties

Urology is the practice of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of problems and diseases of the male and female urinary tract and male reproductive system. Urology is considered a surgical subspecialty and requires study in internal medicine, pediatrics, and gynecology. Urologists are required to graduate from medical school plus complete a five-year residency.

Some of the specialties in urology include:

  • male infertility
  • female urology
  • urologic oncology
  • pediatric urology
  • urinary tract stones
  • renal transplantation
  • neurourology
  • erectile dysfunction

Urinary tract stones have historically provided the bulk of work in urology and the recent introduction of ureteroscopy and extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy have revolutionized treatment and prevention of stones. Open surgery has now been rendered nearly obsolete for kidney stones, and the formation of stones has been greatly reduced. Urologists also deal with renal disease, prostate cancer, urinary tract infections, and congenital anomalies, such as intersexuality. Surgeries performed by urologists include laparoscopic surgery of the ureter, bladder, and prostate, kidney stone, and cancerous growths. They perform vasectomies and repair abnormalities in the urinary tract and reproductive organs.

Patients usually see urologists by referral from a primary care physician. For elective surgery, be sure to choose a urologist based on expertise. A patient wanting a vasectomy or vasectomy reversal is wise to look to a urologist who is skilled in microsurgery and performs vasectomies and reversals on a routine basis. Parents and patients with questions about intersex issues should look for a pediatric urologist who has experience in this area.

Choosing a healthcare professional for general care or any type of procedure can seem daunting. Make a checklist of criteria based on your needs, for example:

  • Does the physician have a current medical license and board certification?
  • Is the physician recommended by other healthcare professionals?
  • Is there proper medical insurance coverage to pay for office visits and procedures?
  • Are office hours convenient to your schedule?

Make time to interview the doctor to ensure you have a good rapport. This is important in creating an open and honest doctor-patient relationship. Be sure procedures and policies are explained so that you understand them.

Because of continuing advances in the field of urology, it is vital that practicing urologists commit to continuing education. Board certification ensures that medical doctors, including urologists, are qualified to practice medicine and have received adequate training in their specialty.

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