In addition to general urology, which focuses on a broad range of issues affecting the urinary and reproductive systems, there are several specialized types of urology. These different subspecialties focus on conditions and diseases that occur in men, women, and children, such as prostate, kidney or testicular cancer, male infertility and kidney stones.
What Are the Various Types of Urology?
Some urologists work as generalists, meaning they handle a wide range of problems. Others, however, choose a more focused approach and specialize in one (or more) of the seven subspecialties of urology recognized by the American Urological Association. The different areas of urology are:
Pediatric urology focuses on treating urinary and reproductive system problems in infants, children, and teenagers. This ranges from dealing with urinary tract infections to surgically repairing congenital abnormalities present at birth. These can be as simple as an undescended testicle—a common condition in male infants—or more complicated, like those involving the development of a child’s sexual identity.
Oncologists specialize in treating cancer. Urologic oncologists treat cancers of the urinary and male reproductive systems, including the kidneys, bladder, testicles, and prostate. Recent developments in chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgical procedures have provided urologic oncologists more tools to fight these malignant diseases. In addition, urologists have access to more accurate diagnostics.
Renal transplantation, or kidney transplant, involves the removal of a kidney from the donor into a patient whose kidney has stopped working or is diseased. In these situations, the urologist often works as part of a more comprehensive surgical team. A patient who undergoes kidney transplant surgery will also require ongoing monitoring to ensure that the new kidney works properly.
Urologists treat male infertility—the inability to get a woman pregnant—using both medical and surgical methods. Infertility can have various causes, such as the inability to achieve an erection, low sperm count or blockage in the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles. Men may also be infertile due to a vasectomy (a sterilization procedure for men), and vasectomy reversals are a common outpatient procedure for urologists who specialize in male infertility.
Calculi (Kidney Stones)
One area of urology deals specifically with kidney stones (small, hard masses of minerals and protein that form in the kidneys). These can be very painful and prevent urine from flowing from the kidney to the bladder. Urologists who specialize in this area not only remove the stones but also work with patients to reduce their future risk.
Female urology deals specifically with disorders that affect women, such as urinary incontinence and problems with the pelvic floor. Female urology issues can be treated using both surgical and non-surgical methods.
Neurourology specialists concentrate on the connection between the nervous system and the urinary and male reproductive systems. Proper functioning of the bladder involves the brain, spinal cord, and the nerves that run to the bladder. Many disorders can affect how the nervous system controls the bladder, including stroke, spinal cord injury, and Parkinson’s disease. Similarly, problems with the nervous system can play a role in erectile dysfunction and impotence in men.
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