Urology Terms and Definitions

A malignant tumor that originates in the cells of a gland, such as the prostate gland.


Adjuvant Therapy
Treatment occurring immediately after the primary treatment with the purpose of increasing the probability of success.


A drug used to relieve pain.


A type of hormone that controls the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics.


A benign tumor of the kidney which arises from blood vessels and fat; it may, if it grows large enough, rupture and cause bleeding into or around the kidney


Anti – Inflammatory
A drug which reduces inflammation and helps to relieve pain; often used to treat prostatitis & the pain of kidney stones


A substance that tends to inhibit the production, activity, or effects of a male sex hormone, typically preventing the growth of prostate cancer cells.


The complete absence of sperm in ejaculated semen; one cause of male-factor infertility. Usually due to failure of production of sperm by the testis or to obstruction of the tubing along which sperm normally pass


Inflammation of the foreskin or the tip of the penis


Non-cancerous tumors that do not travel to the lymph nodes or distant tissues.


The removal and examination of a sample of tissue for diagnostic purposes.


Benign prostatic hyperplasia; benign enlargement of the prostate gland, invariably seen with increasing age


A type of radiotherapy where radioactive seeds are implanted directly into an organ, usually the prostate gland


Calcium Oxalate
The most common constituent of kidney stones and the type of stone which is most prone to recur


A stone, usually in the kidney or ureter, but may also occur on the prostate or bladder


The outermost part of the collecting system of the kidney where urine is first released for excretion


A rubber or silicone tube passed into the bladder to drain urine


The use of drugs to treat cancer


A deformity of the penis which results in a bending on erection


Inflammation of the internal lining of the bladder


Surgical removal of the foreskin, usually performed for phimosis


Surgical removal of the bladder, usually for invasive cancer


An X-ray of the bladder where dye is inserted into the bladder using a catheter


The study of individual cells, usually in the urine, to identify malignancy or other disorders


Computerized tomography; a form of X-ray where slices are taken through the body to produce images at different levels


Cystocele (Anterior Vaginal Prolapse)
This type of prolapse occurs when the wall between the vagina and the bladder stretches or detaches from its attachment to the pelvic muscles. This loss of support allows the bladder to prolapse or fall down into the vagina.


Cystoscopy is a way to look at the inside of your bladder using a tiny telescope and light. Sterile fluid is then used to fill the bladder, so that your doctor can see inside. This allows your doctor to make sure that there are no abnormalities or other problems.


Digital Rectal Examination (DRE)
A digital rectal exam is an examination of the lower rectum. The doctor uses a gloved, lubricated finger to check for abnormalities.


Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
An androgenic hormone that is thought to be responsible for the development of male sexual functions.


Stretching or widening of an opening, usually the urethra or neck of the bladder


An abnormal pouch leading off the cavity of a hollow organ


Painful passage of urine


Blocking the artery to an organ by introducing foam, coils or gel under X-ray control using a small catheter placed in the artery


The sperm-carrying tube lying behind the testis which carries sperms from the testis to the vas deferens during ejaculation


Inflammation/infection of the epididymis, often involving the testis as well (epididymo-orchitits)


Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy; shockwaves generated in water, focused and fired through the body to fragment stones in the kidney or ureter


The discharge of semen from the penis usually accompanied by orgasm.


Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
The inability to achieve or maintain an erection satisfactory for sexual relations to engage in sexual intercourse. May be referred to as impotence.


The state of swelling, hardness, and stiffness due to increased filling of the penis during sexual excitement.


Leakage of urine or surgical irrigation fluid outside the urinary tract


External Beam Radiation (EBR)
A form of radiation therapy where radiation is delivered by a machine pointed at the specific area to be radiated. May be referred to as external beam radiation (EBR, XBR) or external beam radiation therapy (EBRT, XBRT).


An abnormal passageway between two organs in the body or between an organ and the exterior of the body. It is an uncommon complication of some prostate cancer treatments.


Free PSA (fPSA)
A prostate specific antigen (PSA) is either bound to protein or unbound (“free”). Risk of prostate cancer can be further evaluated by measuring both forms.


The need to urinate many times a day. This can be caused by a prostate problem in men.


Gleason Score (GS)
A grading system used to help evaluate the aggressiveness and prognosis of men with prostate cancer. It is based on a 2 to 10 scale, the higher the score the more likely cancer cells will or have spread.


A means for providing information about the probable growth rate of a tumor and its likelihood of spreading. See Gleason Score.


Blood in the semen during ejaculation


Blood in the urine


Having to wait an abnormally long time for the flow of urine to start


Hormone Refractory Prostate Cancer (HRPC)
Prostate cancer that is resistant to hormone therapy.


Hormone Therapy (HT)
Treatment that adds, blocks, or removes hormones using surgery, injections or tablets.


An abnormal collection of fluid in the naturally-occurring sac which surrounds the testicle


Treatment of cancer by stimulating the natural immune response


The inability to achieve or maintain an erection of the penis adequate for sexual intercourse. Also referred to as erectile dysfunction.


Incomplete Bladder Emptying
The inability to completely void the bladder during urination.


Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
A type of radiation therapy that uses 3-dimensional images to show the size and shape of the tumor to better focus therapy towards the cancer. This type of radiation therapy minimizes the damage to healthy tissue next to the tumor.


One of two paired organs (normally) which lie at the back of the abdomen, in front of the lower ribs, and filter the blood to produce urine


Light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation; an energy source for performing some types of urological surgery


A technique of surgery that utilizes a camera and scope and specialized instruments that allow the surgeon to use small incisions (about half an inch long) to perform surgery that would otherwise require larger incisions. This type of surgery often offers the patients a quicker recovery with less pain than surgery with larger incisions.


Desire or interest in sexual activity. Prostate cancer diagnosis and its treatment can affect this.


Breaking up of a stone; usually synonymous with ESWL


Crushing of a stone, usually in the bladder, to reduce it to fragments small enough to be passed spontaneously or removed through an endoscope


Surgical removal of lymph nodes to determine whether they are involved with cancer


A medical term used to describe a cancerous tumer that has the ability to spread.


A tumor marker is a substance found in the blood, urine, or body tissues. There are many different tumors markers, each indicative of a particular disease process, and they are used in oncology to help detect the presence of cancer.


A secondary tumor (remote from the original cancer) which has arisen by spread through the blood, the lymph system or by direct invasion


Magnetic resonance imaging; a means of producing cross-sectional images of the body to characterize tissues by the way the electrons in the tissue move in response to a strong magnetic field


The microscopic filtering unit in the kidney which filters water and waste products from the blood


Preliminary cancer therapy, usually chemotherapy or radiation therapy, which precedes a necessary second type of treatment modality of treatment.


Nerve Sparing
A surgical technique during a radical prostatectomy where one or both of the neurovascular bundles, a term applied to the body nerves, arteries, veins and lymphatics that tend to travel together in the body controlling erections, are not cut or severed. The aim of this technique is to avoid damaging the nerves that help control erections and continence.


The need to urinate at night, thus interrupting sleep.


Nocturnal Enuresis
Incontinence of urine at night usually considered synonymous with bedwetting


A doctor who specializes in cancer treatment.


A type of hormone therapy for prostate cancer where one or both testicles are surgically removed to reduce testosterone, may also be done for treatment of testicular cancer.


Overactive Bladder
Refers to any of the following conditions: Frequency (more than 8 voids in each 24 hours) Urgency (a powerful urge to urinate, which is difficult to put off) Nocturia (waking up twice or more at night to urinate) Urge incontinence (leakage of urine associated with an urge to urinate, or not making it to the bathroom in time)


Overactive Bladder
Refers to any of the following conditions:

  • Frequency (more than 8 voids in each 24 hours)
  • Urgency (a powerful urge to urinate, that is difficult to put off)
  • Nocturia (waking up twice or more at night to urinate)
  • Urge incontinence (leakage of urine associated with an urge to urinate, or not making it to the bathroom in time)

Palliative Care
Form of medical care or treatment that concentrates on reducing the severity of disease symptoms, rather than striving to halt, delay, or reverse progression of the disease itself or provide a cure. The goal is to prevent and relieve suffering and to improve quality of life for people facing serious, complex illness.


Retraction of a tight foreskin which becomes “stuck” due to an inability to return it to its original position covering the head of the penis


Physician who reads surgery slides.


Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the normal support of the vagina is lost resulting in “sagging” or dropping of the bladder, urethra, cervix and rectum. As the prolapse of the vagina and uterus progresses, women can feel bulging tissue protruding through the opening of the vagina.


The lower portion of the abdomen located between the hip bones.


The area between the anus and the genitals.


Tightness of the foreskin, either due to a scarring disease or as a result of a congenital abnormality


Over-production of urine, usually at night; often occurs in the elderly due to poor water handling ability with increasing age


A gland of the male reproductive system that produces a seminal fluid.


Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA)
An enzyme present in very small amounts in men that helps to liquefy semen. It is produced by the prostate and is found in higher amounts in the blood or men with prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or infection or inflammation of the prostate.


Infection or inflammation of the prostate gland


An artificial implant used to replace any part of the body (e.g. a testicle)


Quality of Life Management
A measure of a person’s overall satisfaction with life and their ability to successful cope with the full range of challenges associated with the pain and symptoms after a particular treatment.


Radical Perianal Prostatectomy
Surgery to remove the entire prostate gland. It is used to treat cancer that is localized within the prostate gland. The incision is made in the perineum, midway between rectum and scrotum.


Radical Retro-pubic Prostatectomy
Surgery to remove the entire prostate gland. It is used to treat cancer that is localized within the prostate gland. The incision is made in the lower abdomen.


Cancer that has returned after treatment.


Robotic Prostatectomy
Laparoscopic prostatectomy, when it is carried out with the assistance of a robot. Laparoscopic robotic arms are controlled by a surgeon.


Robotic Surgery
This includes the use of the da Vinci surgical system to perform laparascopic surgery. Robotic surgery can be used in gynecology to treat fibroids, abnormal periods, endometriosis, ovarian tumors, pelvic prolapse, and female cancers. Using the robotic system, gynecologists can perform hysterectomies, myomectomies, and lymph node biopsies. Robotic surgery is used in urology to remove the prostate gland for cancer, repair or removal of kidneys and repair bladder abnormalities.


Fluid discharged at ejaculation in the male. It consists of sperm from the testes and fluid from the prostate and other sex glands.


Seminal Vesicle
A pair of simple tubular glands that secrete significant proportions of the fluid that ultimately becomes semen.


Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM)
A validated questionnaire designed to help you and your health care provider identify if you are experiencing erectile dysfunction and if you are, to what degree.


Sphincter (Urinary)
A collective name for the muscles surrounding the urethra used to control the flow of urine from the urinary bladder.


Stage, Staging
The extent of which cancer has spread throughout the body.


A type of drug used to control swelling and inflammation.


Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)
It is the loss of small amounts of urine associated with coughing, laughing, sneezing, exercising or other movements that increase intra-abdominal pressure and thus increase pressure on the bladder. It is not uncommon after prostate surgery.


The main male hormone produced mainly by the testicles (and by the adrenal glands)


A staging system for cancer which describes the extent of the primary tumor (T), the lymph nodes (N) and metastases (M)


Transitional Cell Carcinoma
A malignant (cancerous) tumor arising from the internal lining of the urinary tract


Transurethral resection of the prostate


Transurethral resection of bladder tumor


Transrectal Ultrasound (TRUS)
A procedure used to formulate an image of internal body tissue. It involves the insertion of a sound-wave emitting probe into the rectum (also called an endorectal ultrasound).


High-frequency sound waves used to reflect off tissues to determine their nature


The tube carrying urine to the bladder from the kidney.


Inspection of the ureter (and/or kidney) using a telescope (either flexible or rigid) with an attached light source passed into the bladder and up the ureter towards the kidney


The tube through which urine passes to the outside of the body from the bladder


A sudden, irresistible desire to pass urine


Urinary Bladder
The organ that collects urine excreted by the kidneys prior to urination.


Urinary Incontinence
Any unintentional or involuntary leakage of urine. It can range from a few drops to no control at all of your urine.


Urinary Incontinence
The involuntary loss of urine must which has a negative impact on the quality of the individual’s life, particularly for hygienic and/or social standpoints.


The field of Urogynecology is a subspecialty within Obstetrics and Gynecology and is dedicated to the study and treatment of pelvic floor disorders in women. Urogynecologists have completed medical school and a four-year residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology, or Urology. These doctors become specialists with additional training and experience in the evaluation and treatment of conditions that affect the female pelvic organs, and the muscles and connective tissue that support the organs. Many have completed formal fellowships (additional training after residency) that focused on the surgical and non-surgical treatment of non-cancerous gynecologic problems.


A Urologist is a physician who is trained to evaluate the genitourinary tract, which includes the kidneys, urinary bladder and genital structures in men and women, and the prostate and testicles in men. The Urologist evaluates the function of these structures, the conditions and diseases that can affect them and the medical and surgical tools to optimize their function, treat the conditions and diseases of these organs.


Uterine Prolapse
When the supporting ligaments and muscles of the pelvic floor that keep the uterus in the pelvis are damaged, the cervix and uterus descend into and eventually out of the vagina. Often, uterine prolapse is associated with loss of vaginal wall support (cystocele, rectocele).


Vas Deferens
A muscular tube which carries sperm from the epididymis into the urethra during   ejaculation of semen


An abnormal collection of varicose veins above the testicle, usually on the left side