Urology is often thought of as being exclusively about men's health. Although, this aspect of healthcare can be covered, urologists also see medical problems in women. Thus, a more appropriate way of describing this medical specialty is that urology covers conditions of the urinary tract in men and women (as well as in adults and children).
Urology encompasses a large range of conditions. These cover congenital conditions that children are born with. Examples include undescended testes and tight foreskins. Another category includes conditions which develop; Metabolic conditions such as kidney stones or urinary tract stones are examples.
Unfortunately, urology also deals with lots of cancers. As a medical specialty, urology deals with three of the top ten most common cancers in the UK. Prostate, bladder, and kidney cancer all tend to be more prevalent in the elderly population. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and as such is screened for across medicine but dealt with once diagnosed under the care of a consultant urologist.
Consultant urologists also offer expertise in the treatment of lifestyle issues such as urinary incontinence in men and women and erectile dysfunction in men as they get older. A further condition which is seen in increasing numbers is symptoms associated with prostate enlargement (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia). About sixty per cent of men in their seventies have it which can lead to certain bladder symptoms such as stream or flow issues when urinating. Often this condition is managed with the help of GPs with appropriate medication. However, a consultant urologist may be needed for initial diagnosis and management for an assessment to see whether a patient may require some sort of surgical procedure.
Due to the large range of conditions treated by consultant urologists and their teams, this specialty offers a similar range of treatments including education regarding lifestyle intervention where appropriate, medicines (pharmacology management) as well as some surgical procedures.
Depending on the clinical scenario and due to the anatomy being dealt with, consultant urologists often utilize technology in many of the procedures they offer. Keyhole surgery (termed a laparoscopy) and endoscopic surgery involves placing a tiny tube down the urethra (urinary tract) to access relevant anatomy. Depending on the surgery, robots are increasingly used to assist with the precision cutting required for complex surgeries. Studies have demonstrated robotic assisted procedures to increase surgical precision and cut overall surgery time benefitting the doctor and patient. Urological procedures will also use lasers to provide the energy for cutting procedures such as prostatectomies and nephrectomies