Urologists and Urological Disorders

Specialists in the Urinary Tract and External Genital Organs

Doctor talking with patient in doctor’s office
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A urologist is a physician who specializes in disorders of the urinary tract and the external genital organs. These include the kidneys, ureters, urethra, bladder, testes, penis, and prostate. There is a common misconception that urologists treat only men, but they treat both men and women. They also conduct related surgeries, such as procedures that are performed on the adrenal glands (which sit on top of your kidneys).

Common Conditions That a Urologist Treats

You may need to see a urologist for a number of reasons. Some common disorders that are treated by urologists include the following.

Though the listed concerns above are among the issues that urologists contend with most of the time, urologists who have special training in reconstruction may also fix urinary tract or genitalia abnormalities that are present at birth, as well as intervene in serious accident-related situations, such as car wrecks (particularly if the doctor has experience treating trauma).

Pediatric Urology Care

Pediatric urologists most frequently deal with urination (voiding) problems in children. This includes an issue as well-known as bedwetting, which is also referred to as enuresis. It also includes vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), where urine goes backward from the bladder to the kidney. This sometimes results from recurrent urinary tract infections and, if not treated successfully, can cause kidney scarring.

You may be surprised as a parent to hear that there are several other reasons why your child may need to see a urologist. If your pediatrician or hospital recommends one, it may be because of one of these concerns:

  • Undescended testicles
  • Hypospadias, a birth defect where the meatus (where urine exits from the urethra) is located on the underside of the penis, rather than the tip
  • Bladder exstrophy
  • Epispadias, a birth defect where the bladder and urethra do not form normally and the pelvic bones do not sit together

In cases of epispadias, an orthopedic surgeon first operates on the pelvic bones before​ the urinary repair is done by a urologist. Since this is a rare disorder, it is generally recommended that parents take their children to centers with large pediatric facilities that have sufficient expertise in this specialized area.

Treating Your Urologic Condition

While urology is its own medical specialty, there are additional subspecialties within it. You should not be surprised if your urologist sends you to a colleague in his or her field who has training that's more aligned with your specific problem.

In addition, depending on your health issue, your urologist may need to work in conjunction with a doctor from an entirely different medical specialty to coordinate your care. For example, if you are being treated for urologic cancer, your urologist may refer you to a urologic oncologist who specializes in all cancers of the urinary tract or even a specific cancer. Your doctor will work along with a medical oncologist, a radiation therapist, and/or a radiologist, as well, to make sure that all the physicians are working together to address the concerns that you face.