What is a urologist?
Most men and women are faced along their lives with issues concerning their kidneys, bladders, ureters, urethra, adrenal glands, or, in other words, with their urinary system. For most of these troubles, a visit to the urologist is the best way to find a solution. Urology specialists are trained in issues of the urinary system for both genders, but also in treating all components of the male reproductive system, such as gynecologists help with that of women’s.
The components of the urinary tract are closely linked to one another, so when one of them is affected by a disease, chances are high that the others are suffering as well. Thus, the spectrum of issues that fall under a urologist’s area of expertise are called genitourinary disorders. A urologist can treat both non-surgical conditions, such as UTIs (urinary tract infections), infertility, kidney stones, and surgical affections, including cancers of the prostate, bladder or kidney, urinary incontinence, traumatic injuries, varicoceles.
Urologists can treat general diseases of the urinary spectrum, or can choose to specialize in particular areas:
- Urologic oncology – such as Dr. Samadi, urologists specialized in urologic oncology are specialized in treating cancers of the urinary tract: kidney, bladder, prostate, testiclesl
- Male infertility – focuses on the issues that prevent men from having children with their partners;
- Pediatric urology – specializes in the urinary issues of children;
- Neurology – focuses on urinary issues causes by the nervous system.
How to become a urologic specialist? What are the requirements?
In the United States, becoming any type of doctor means sacrificing a lot of years to learning, trainings and research. Becoming a urologist isn’t an exception. After completing four years of college and earning a college degree, students who want to become urologists have to attend medical school for an additional four years. The next step is the mandatory residency, which can last up to four or five years, during which you practice your job in a hospital, under the supervision of experienced doctors in the field. If you want to specialize in one of the areas mentioned above, you are required to complete additional training, called a fellowship, which can also top one or two more years to your learning spree.
Becoming a specialist in urology requires passing the specialty certification exam for urologists. After completing this step, you become certified by the American Board of Urology.
For further understanding, you can follow the example of dr. Samadi’s training. After earning a degree in biochemistry from the State University in New York in 1990, he attended Stony Brook School of Medicine, earning his medical degree in 1994. What followed were post-graduate trainings in Urology at Montefiore Medical Center, at Albert Einstein School of Medicine and a major in proctology from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. His fellowship in robotic radical prostatectomy is his urology specialization, attended at Henri Mondor Hospital in Creteil, France, under the mentorship of professor Claude Abbou. After all his training, dr. Samadi passed the specialty certification exam and is certified by the American Board of Urology.
When should you see a urologist?
Issues of the urinary tract or the male’s reproductive system manifest in several ways. These are the symptoms that should make you pay your urologist a visit:
- frequent urination – going to the bathroom more than usually;
- a burning sensation while urinating;
- feelings of irritation after urinating;
- pain in your lower back, pelvis or sides;
- blood in urine;
- week urine flow;
- inability to hold the urine;
- innability to completely empty the bladder.
Specifically, if you’re a man and experiencing the following symptoms, you should plan a visit to your urologist:
- trouble maintaining an errection;
- decreased sexual desire;
- trouble conceiving children;
- lump in testicles;
- swollen lymph nodes in your groin area.
What procedures do urologists perform?
As we mentioned before, urologists are trained in both non-surgical and surgical treatments. Some of the urologic procedures include:
Imaging tests – sometimes, in order to identify issues in your urinary tract, urologists may use CT scans, classic MRIs or MRI fusion biopsy.
Biopsies – these are procedures during which the urologist removes through a surgical procedure a sample of tissue from the prostate, kidneys or bladder, in order to be examined under the microscope for prostate cancer.
Laparoscopies – these are surgical procedures that have replaced open surgeries and are considered minimally-invasive. During these last years, robot-assisted-surgeries of the prostate, kidney, bladder or other components of the urinary tract systems have become increasingly more popular, due to the small incisions, minimal blood loss and short hospital stays.
Urolift – for men suffering from BPH, Urolift is a minimally invasive surgery that can be performed in the urologist’s office and helps alleviate the symptoms of BPH.
GreenLight and TURP – both are treatments that help reduce the symptoms of enlarged prostate
Cystoscopies – in order to examine the lining of your bladder and your urethra, the urologist will introduce a tube called a cystoscope into your urethra and towards your bladder.
How do I find a urologist?
If you’re searching for a good urologist, you should look for the general traits of a good doctor. Your GP should have some recommendations of urologists he/she has collaborated with in the past and knows they are well prepared. Moreover, try asking your close relatives or friends if they have a urologist which they trust, and you will surely discover a few other names.
More and more patients search for reviews of their doctors online. There are several websites such as vitals.net, healthgrades.com, zocdoc.com, ratemds.com and more. Do your research both online and offline and don’t be afraid or ashamed of going for a second opinion if you’re not entirely convinced by your doctor.
What should I expect when visiting the urologist?
If it’s the first time you’re visiting a urologist, you should be prepared for:
- Taking a physical exam – The doctor will inspect your groin area, touch you on your lower back, testicles or might perform a digital rectal exam, depending on where your symptoms are located.
- Providing a urine sample – Especially if your urine flow has changed, you’re experiencing painful urination or blood in your urine, a urine sample will be requested of you, to be sent to a laboratory for a detailed analysis.
- Presenting your medical records – your latest laboratory results, any chronic illnesses or any other condition you’ve suffered, that might be related with what you’re experiencing at the moment. You should also provide a list of the medications you’re presently taking.
Urology issues can have major consequences on your general health and quality of life, if left untreated. If you’re experiencing any urologic symptoms or problems you should not hesitate to seek the advise of an experienced urologist, such as dr. David Samadi.