Urology, surgical specialty concerned with diseases of the urinary system and male reproductive system. Urologists study, diagnose, and treat disorders of the ureters, bladder, urethra, and kidney, and conditions affecting the male reproductive system, especially the prostate gland.
Urologists treat common disorders of the urinary system, including urinary tract infections; enuresis, the involuntary discharge of urine; cystitis, the inflammation of the bladder; tumors of the bladder; and mineral deposits in the kidney, commonly known as kidney stones. Urologists also specialize in disorders of the male reproductive system, such as enlargement of the prostate gland, and reproductive problems such as infertility and impotence.
Urologists use a variety of surgical techniques, diagnostic tools, and treatment therapies. One of the tests urologists use most frequently to diagnose disease is urinalysis, the chemical analysis of a patient's urine. Ultrasound, a procedure that uses inaudible sound waves to generate computerized images of internal organs, enables urologists to see irregularities in the bladder and other organs. Urologists treat small kidney stones nonsurgically with lithotripsy, a procedure in which doctors direct sound waves at stones in the bladder to disintegrate them. Two other important tools are the catheter, a long, tubular device for draining an obstructed bladder, and the cystoscope, a narrow, illuminated probe used to examine the bladder and ureters. Urologists also perform surgical procedures, such as prostatectomy-that is, the partial or complete removal of an enlarged or cancerous prostate gland-and operations to remove large kidney stones.
Those interested in a career in urology must obtain a medical degree and complete a two-year training program in general surgery, followed by at least three years of urological training. Finally, candidates must pass a written and an oral examination.