Urology is a medical and surgical specialist branch that deals with pathologies of the genitourinary system, namely the kidneys, ureters, bladder, prostate and male external genitalia.
In order to understand the symptoms that characterise the disorders for which an individual should seek a urological examination, it is important to understand the urinary tract. It comprises the kidneys, the urinary tract or ureters, the bladder and the urethra. Its functioning is comparable to a hydraulic system where the kidneys represent the purification system and the cisterns of an aqueduct, the ureters the piping system that transports the water to the houses, the bladder the sink and the urethra the drainpipe. Furthermore, the prostate although having the role of being a genital organ it is responsible for 90% of the composition of the seminal fluid. Thanks to its position below the bladder and acting as a sleeve around the urethra, the prostate is integrated into the system by regulating the proper functionality of the urinary tract.
The urologist thus acts to guarantee that the urine produced by the kidneys is expelled in an appropriate manner, by removing any obstacle. The main urological symptoms are difficulty in urinating, burning or painful urination, retention of urine in the bladder, blood in the urine, involuntary loss of urine and side pain that may radiate to the pubic-genital area. Faced with these symptoms, the urologist tries to find the possible pathologies responsible, intervening with the appropriate treatment.
The urologist’s "tools" are several but the urinary catheters are the protagonists in an emergency, because they represent the first means of emptying the bladder when the urine flow is obstructed. Most diseases that involve the urinary tract are diagnosed and treated with minimally invasive endoscopic instruments through the urethra. The eye of the urologist as a periscope goes inside the abdomen by means of sophisticated tools through small incisions in the skin (laparoscopy). If the underlying disease does not allow a minimally invasive approach, the urologist guarantees the same results with a traditional technique called “open surgery” (surgical wound). Lastly, it is worth mentioning the study of the system dynamics for bladder emptying (urodynamics), and the possible treatment of urinary incontinence which can be both medical and surgical.
This specialist’s biggest commitment is the oncological treatment of cancer of the genital and urinary organs. For this reason, the urologist daily meets radiologists and pathologists to discuss diagnosis, oncologists and radiotherapists for the treatment, and psychologists for the impact that these oncological diseases have on the patients’ quality of life.
The disorders of male genital organs and sexual dysfunction are also considered to be urologically relevant. It is also in this case a very surgical specialist who deals with the diagnosis and treatment of varicocele, impotence, genital infections that are often associated with the urinary and male infertility.
Andrology is a branch of medicine that focuses its studies on male health, with particular reference to the dysfunctions of the reproductive and urogenital system. It is the counterpart of gynaecology, the science that deals with typical female dysfunctions.
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