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Urological and General Medical Terms

Absorbent Pads: any disposable pad made of cellulose or diaper-like gels which absorb excess fluid, such as urine lost during a cough, sneeze, or lifting. Absorbent pads can be small liners or larger underwear like Depends.

Acute: Any condition in its initial stages, often the first occurrence

Adjuvant Radiation Therapy: Radiation given in addition to surgical treatments or chemotherapy

Adrenal: The adrenal is the neuro-endocrine organ that sits atop of the kidney, enhance ad+renal. The central or medulla section is related to the nervous system and generates adrenaline and metabolites. Tumors of the medulla include pheochromocytomas and neuroblastomas. The outer or cortical section is related to the endocrine system and generates cortisol, and salt-metabolism hormones, and small amounts of sex hormones. Tumors of this area cause Cushing’s syndrome.

Aldosterone: An important hormone made by adrenal cortex that regulates blood pressure and salt.

Andropause: metabolic changes of the aging male

Anesthesia: General anesthesia is required for major surgery and occurs when a patient is rendered unconscious by inhaled or injected medication; support of breathing and careful monitoring is mandatory. Regional anesthesia is used for many operations on a segment of the body such as the leg or arm which can be made numb by injection of medication, e.g. novocaine, into the nerve that supplies the area. Regional anesthesia requires monitoring for proper blood flow to the area and heat and cold maintenance. A kind of regional anesthesia is spinal anesthesia in which numbing medications are injected on or near the spinal nerves. Local anesthesia refers to numbing of small areas by injection of novocaine like areas or application of certain gels.
Examples of anesthesia in urology:
local: cystoscopy, vasectomy, microwave
regional: circumcision, bladder tumor removal (TURBT), prostate resection (TURP)
general: laparoscopic nephrectomy, robotic prostatectomy

Artificial Sphincter: Incontinence, or the uncontrolled loss of urine from the bladder, may be due to failure of the normal muscle function that keeps a patient dry. When prescribed exercises or outpatient therapies fail, placement of a sphincter can provide urinary control. An artificial sphincter is a short inflatable ring wrapped around the urethra. Placed in a surgical procedure, it keeps the bottom of the bladder closed; when the patient desires to empty the bladder, a valve can be pressed which releases the sphincter for a long enough time to allow passage of urine.

Avodart: The trade name of dutasteride, an inhibitor of testosterone conversion to dehydrotestosterone. Like finasteride or proscar, Avodart is used in the management of prostate enlargement conditions like Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).

Behavioral Techniques: these refer to a group of approaches in the improvement of bladder, sexual, and many neuro-physiologic functions. Studies have shown that many abnormal problems, such as bladder dysfunction, can be improved with careful recognition of normal muscular control and exercise. Bio-feedback is one method for a patient to become familiar with these methods in bladder control.

Bladder: The organ of urinary storage and evacuation. As such, disorders of the bladder include those of problems storing urine, emptying urine, and a mixture of these problems. An important goal of the urologist is to ensure low pressure storage and effective bladder emtying.

Bladder Cancer: Cancer of the lining of the bladder also known as Transitional Cell Carcinoma or TCC.

Bladder Ultrasound: A non-invasive test that uses ultrasound waves to measure the bladder, its shape, and capacity.  It is the most common method used to measure a post-void residual.  bladder-ultrasound

BCG: Bacillus Calmette-Guerin. An important agent used to treat bladder cancer. Instilled into the bladder, it is thought to enhance the ability of the body’s immune system to seek out and destroy bladder cancer cells in the lining of the bladder.

Board Certified: A urologist must complete a certified residency, pass the American Board of Urology written exam, be in practice for at least 18 months, and complete a wide variety of urologic cases, before sitting for the oral part of the exam. A satisfactory grade allows the urologist to become ‘board certified’, but requires continued medical education, scholarly activities, and re-certification every 10 years See the ABU website.

Bo-Tox: Botulinum toxin is derived from clostridial bacteria that cause botulism food poisoning. The poison does this by paralysing the nerves of respiration. In tiny amounts, medical botulinum can be used to decreased hyperactive nerve function. Some cases of bladder overactivity can be improved with Bo-Tox injections.

BPH: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Catheter: Short, usually soft tubes of latex or silicone which are used to empty the urinary bladder. Foley catheters use a small balloon to allow them to stay attached to the bladder; Red Robinson or ‘straight’ catheters do not: they are used to empty the bladder and then are removed. Coude, for French elbow, catheters have a bend in them to allow passage over the large prostate.

Circumcision: the surgical removal of the penile foreskin or prepuce.

Consultation: a service provided by a consultant, like a urologist, for a requesting physician, like a primary care provider (PCP).

Cystectomy: the surgical removal of the bladder. When done for bladder cancer, in a male, a radical cystectomy is performed: removal of the bladder and prostate gland together. In a female, a radical cystectomy requires the removal or the bladder with the overlying uterus if present.

Cystitis: inflammation of the bladder causing urinary symptoms such as frequency, urgency, pain, or pressure. There are acute and chronic forms, uncomplicated, multifactorial, or idiopathic (i.e. without known cause)

Cystoscopy: the examination of the bladder and urethra with a cystoscope. There are flexible and rigid ureteroscopes, pediatric and adult, and have evolved from simple light reflecting instruments of the 1600s to modern digital endoscopes of this century.
Click here if you would like to see something explained in our glossary that isn’t yet included.
Da Vinci Prostatectomy: Surgical procedure for prostate cancer which utilizes the Da Vinci robotic surgery platform, a kind of laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery.

Detrol: Trade name of tolterodine, a type of anti-muscarinic drug used for the overactive bladder.

Diplomate: A physician who has received a diploma of an organization, most commonly used when referring to board-certified physicians who are “diplomates” of the American Board of Urology.

Diabetes: From the Greek, ‘flowing through’, refers to the large volume of urine untreated diabetics can produce due to excess sugar in the urine. Diabetes mellitus is by far the most common endocrine abnormality in the United States. Even though blood sugar is normal, diabetes is associated with a number of urologic problems including impotence, bladder control, and infection.

DRE: Digital Rectal Exam. The examination of the surface of the prostate by the physician.

DHT: Dehydrotestosterone. An important hormone in the prostate gland and is reduced by medications like finasteride.

Ditropan: Trade name of oxybutynin, a type of anti-muscarinic drug used for the overactive bladder.

Dysuria: From the Greek ‘dys’ or ‘bad’ and ‘uria’ for urine, specifically refers to the sense off burning with urination. Dysuria may be the symptom of a urinary tract infection, cystitis, urethritis, or any inflammatory condition of the lower urinary tract.

Endourology: The field within urology which uses small endoscopic lenses and cameras to accomplish ‘natural orifice’ surgery.

Erectile Dysfunction (ED): Any perceived inability in having erections for sexual activity. Synonymous with impotence.

Fellowship: A extra, specialized period after a full residency where a physician focuses their skills to a particular aspect of their specialty.

Finasteride: A DHT reductase inhibitor. Used to halt the growth of the prostate in BPH.

GU: Genito-Urinary, the formal name given to urology and its domains, hence our website:

Habit Training: A behavioral therapy to improve bladder control that has resulted from long term suppression of normal bladder urges.

Idiopathic: No identifiable, obvious or direct medical or scientific cause for a certain condition or illness.

Impotence: erectile dysfunction: the inability to obtain or maintain erections. Impotency is not infertility; many impotent men are fertile and vice versa.

Incidentaloma: The term used to refer to tumors which are found accidentally, or as an incidental finding in a test done for other reasons. A common example is the benign adrenal nodule, which is seen in about 1% of all abdominal CT scans.

Infertility: The inability to conceive via ejaculation of semen.

Kegel exercises: Exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles to assist in bladder control

Kidney Sparing Surgery: see partial nephrectomy

LESS: Laparo-endoscopic Single Site Surgery, a type of laparoscopic surgery where only a single incision is made to perform a laparoscopic procedure, often around the natural fold of the belly button, or umbilicus.

Lymph Node Dissection: A sampling of lymph nodes to assess for cancer, usually near the organ of origin.

Male hormones: Testosterone (T), dihydrosterone (DHT), androstenedione (AS), and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS) are made by the testicles; Some AS and DHEAS is made by the adrenal gland, and in the female, in the ovary. T is very low in the female.

Menopause: The period in female life when ovarian follicle development ceases and there are adjustments to pre-pubertal non-cyling of estrogen and progesterone.

Neo-Bladder Construction: A surgical procedure where a new urinary bladder is constructed out of intestinal tissue. Mostly performed in cases where a cancerous bladder is removed, a neobladder can often replace bladder function and allow a patient to void normally.

Nephrectomy: A surgical procedure whereby the entire kidney is removed.

Nerve-Sparing Prostatectomy: A surgical technique whereby the nerves for penile erections, the cavernosal nerves, are identified and preserved during radical prostatectomy for cancer.

Orchiectomy: Surgical removal of the testis

Partial Nephrectomy</a>: A surgical procedure whereby a portion of a kidney is removed and the remaining kidney is preserved.

Prostaglandin and prostacycline: These are two small chemicals, breakdown products of arachidonic acid, which are important in inflammatory pain everywhere in the body and are in rich concentration in the prostate gland where they were first isolated.

PSA: Prostate Specific Antigen. An important enzyme produced by the prostate epithelial cell.

Robot: The popular name given to the Da Vinci Robotic Surgery platform. A surgical robot is technically a marginal manipulator: it carries out the commands of a surgeon.

Robotic Surgery: Any surgical procedure assisted by a manual manipulator type robot, the most common of which is the Da Vinci Robotic surgery platform.

Sacral Colpopexy: A suspension procedure for urinary incontinence.

Staghorn Kidney Stone: Some stones of the kidney are so large that they create a ‘cast’ of the internal space of the kidney and resemble a staghorn antler.

Staging: Clinical staging is an estimate of disease burden based on test results; pathologic staging is given once a cancerous tissue has been surgically removed and examined by a pathologist.

Suprapubic Tube: A tube placed directly into the bladder through the abdominal wall at a site just above the pubic bone and pubic symphysis.

Testicular Cancer: a cancer of the testis usually presenting in men between 20 and 40 years of age, with high cure rates, and QOL

Transitional Cell Carcinoma: The most common form of bladder cancer typically associated with smoking.

Ureter: The tube-like structure which carries urine from the kidney to the bladder. See urethra.

Ureteroscopy: an endoscopic exam of the ureter. A short video of a ureteroscopy is seen here.

Urethra: The muscular tube-like structure which acts as a conduit from the bladder to the outside world.

Urine Retention: The inability to empty the bladder sufficiently. May be due to obstruction, poor bladder function, or both.

Urodynamics: Measurement of the pressures created during bladder filling and emptying

Uroflow: Measurement of the rate of urinary voiding

Urologic Oncology: The disipline in urology that deals with malignancies of the genito-urinary tract including: cancers of the adrenal, kidney, ureter, bladder, prostate, testes, retroperitoneum, urethra, penis, and scrotum.

Voiding Diary: A daily self-recording of when a patient has to urinate. It allows the physician to interpret problems related to overactive bladder.