Glossary of Urological Terms

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Abacterial cystitis

Inflammation of the bladder of uncertain cause in the absence of any infection with bacteria

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Active surveillance

Close monitoring of a condition (usually prostate cancer) without any treatment intervention

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Adenocarcinoma

A cancerous tumour developing from the glandular component of any organ (particularly the prostate or kidney)

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Alpha-blocker

A drug which relaxes the muscle of the bladder neck & prostate to improve symptoms of urinary obstruction; also used to relax the ureter and encourage the passage of stones

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Analgesic

A drug used to relieve pain

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Androgen deprivation

Treatment, usually injections, used to lower testosterone levels

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Angiomyolipoma

A benign tumour 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

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Antiandrogen

A drug used to block the effects of the male hormone (testosterone) often used in the treatment of prostate cancer

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Antibiotic

A drug belonging to a large group of agents used to eradicate bacterial infection

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Anti-inflammatory (NSAID)

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

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Asymptomatic

No signs or symptoms of disease

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Azoospermia

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

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Balanitis

Inflammation of the foreskin or the tip of the penis

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Balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO)

A scarring disease of the foreskin, of unknown cause, which results in a tight, often white foreskin

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Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

Benign enlargement of the prostate gland, invariably seen with increasing age

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Biopsy

A tissue sample taken from any organ or part of the body to ascertain whether any abnormality is present

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Bladder

The midline, lower abdominal organ which stores urine prior to its expulsion via the urethra

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Bladder cancer

A tumour which develops in the internal lining of the bladder wall; usually a malignant transitional cell carcinoma (TCC)

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Bladder training

A technique whereby the patient learns to resist the urge to urinate by passing urine according to a strict, timed schedule

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Brachytherapy

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

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Calcium oxalate

The commonest constituent of kidney stones and the type of stone which is most prone to recur

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Calculus

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

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Calyx

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

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Castration (medical)

The use of drugs to antagonise the male or female hormones, having the same effect as surgical removal of the testicles or ovaries

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Castration (surgical)

Removal of both testicles (in men) or ovaries (in women)

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Catheter

A rubberised or silicone tube passed into a hollow organ (usually the bladder) to drain its contents

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Chemotherapy

The use of drugs to treat cancer

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Chordee

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

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Circumcision

Surgical removal of the foreskin, usually performed for phimosis

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Computerised tomography (CT)

A form of X-ray where slices are taken through the body to produce images at different levels

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Creatinine

A waste product filtered from the blood by the kidneys and expelled in the urine; can be measured by a blood test

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Cryotherapy

Destruction of a tissue or organ by freezing to a very low temperature

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Cystectomy

Surgical removal of the bladder, usually for invasive cancer

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Cystitis

Inflammation of the internal lining of the bladder

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Cystocele

Prolapse of the bladder into the vagina

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Cystogram

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

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Cystometrogram (CMG)

A technique for assessing bladder function by filling the bladder with fluid or gas and measuring the pressure inside the bladder during filling

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Cystoscopy

Inspection of the bladder using a telescope (either flexible or rigid) with an attached light source to illuminate the interior of the bladder

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Cytology

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

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Detrusor muscle

The interlocking fibres which form the muscle of the bladder wall

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Digital rectal examination (DRE, PR)

Examination of the back passage with a gloved finger, usually to feel the prostate gland

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Dilatation

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

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Diverticulum

An abnormal pouch leading off the cavity of a hollow organ; most commonly seen in the bladder

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Dribbling

Leakage after the normal passage of urine due to either obstruction (prostate or stricture) or to an abnormal outpouching of the urethra (diverticulum)

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Dysuria

Painful passage of urine

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Embolisation

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

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Enuresis

Incontinence of urine at night usually considered synonymous with bedwetting

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Epididymis

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

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Epididymitis (epididymo-orchitis)

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

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Erectile dysfunction

Impotence: the inability to obtain or maintain an erection sufficient for penetration and the satisfaction of both sexual partners

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Erection

The complex process of hardening & enlargement of the penis as a result of sexual stimulation

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Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL)

Shockwaves generated in water, focussed and fired through the body to fragment stones in the kidney or ureter

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Extravasation

Leakage of urine or surgical irrigation fluid outside the urinary tract

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Fournier's gangrene

A life-threatening infection, usually of the genital region, resulting in death of tissue and profound collapse (due to the toxins released by the dead tissue)

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Frenulum

The thin bridge of skin on the under-surface of the penis joining the head of the penis to the inside of the foreskin

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Frequency

Passing urine too often, usually during the day

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Gleason grade

A method of scoring the aggressiveness of prostate cancer by assessing the pathological appearance of the tumour under a microscope

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Green light laser (PVP)

A technique for relieving prostatic obstruction using a KTP (potassium titanyl phosphate) laser which emits visible, green light

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Gyneacomastia

Enlargement of breasts in men – can be as a result of androgen treatment

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Haematospermia

Blood in the semen during ejaculation

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Haematuria

Blood in the urine

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Hesitancy

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

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High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)

The use of high frequency ultrasound waves to treat a cancer by heating them, thereby causing cells to die

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Histology

The science of assessing tissue under a microscope to determine whether any abnormality is present

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Hydrocele

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

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Hydronephrosis

Distension of the kidney due to obstruction, reflux or a congenital abnormality

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Hypospadias

A congenital abnormality of the penis where the urethra (urinary orifice) does not open at the tip of the penis; often associated with a downward bending of the penis (chordee)

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Immunotherapy

Treatment of cancer by stimulating the natural immune response, usually with BCG (Bacille Calmette Guerin)

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Incontinence

Involuntary leakage of urine

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Infertility

Inability of a couple to produce a pregnancy following a minimum of 1 year of trying without contraceptive precautions

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International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF)

A symptom score to determine the severity of erectile & ejaculatory function and their impact on quality of life

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International prostate symptom score (I-PSS)

A simple questionnaire to determine the severity of a patient's symptoms

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Interstitial cystitis

Inflammation of the bladder of uncertain cause in the absence of any infection with bacteria

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Intravenous urogram (IVU)

An X-ray of the kidneys, ureters and bladder performed using an injection of dye into a vein in the arm

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Irrigation

The use of saline or other bottled fluids to keep the bladder clear of clotting blood before, during or after surgery

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Kidney

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

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Kidney cancer (renal cancer)

A tumour arising from the kidney, usually an adenocarcinoma

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Laparoscope

A telescope with a light source and camera attached which is inserted into the abdominal cavity (through a small incision) to perform 'keyhole' surgery

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Laser

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

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LHRHa (Luteinising hormone-releasing hormone agonists)

Drugs used to stop testosterone made from the testes

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Litholapaxy

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

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Lithotripsy

Wearing away of a stone; usually synonymous with ESWL

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Lymphadenectomy (lymph node dissection)

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

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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

A means of producing cross-sectional images of the body to characterise tissues by the way the electrons in the tissue move in response to a strong magnetic field

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Maximum androgen blockade (MAB)

The combination of LHRHa injections and an anti-androgen for prostate cancer

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Metastasis

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

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MRI

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

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Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT)

A group of clinicians, from all specialities involved in care of a particular condition, who combine to discuss individual patient problems and to recommend treatment plans for each patient

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Nadir

The lowest measured result – usually refers to the lowest PSA result after treatment

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Nephron

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

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Nephrostomy (also called percutaneous nephrostomy)

A small catheter that is inserted through the skin into the kidney when there is a blockage of the kidney or ureter in the affected side

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Nocturia

Abnormal passage of urine at night

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Orchidectomy

The surgical removal of one or both testicles

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Orchitis

Inflammation (or infection) of a testicle

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Overactive bladder (OAB)

A condition caused by involuntary bladder contractions during filling which cannot be suppressed

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Overflow incontinence

Leakage of urine from a bladder which is permanently full

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Palliative

Treatments used to alleviate symptoms but will not cure the cancer itself

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Paraphimosis

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

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Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL)

Puncture of the kidney through a small incision in the flank with passage of a telescope into the kidney which is used to visualise, fragment and extract stones

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Peyronie's disease

A plaque (hardened area) that forms in the penis preventing that area from stretching and resulting in bending, indentation ("waisting") or shortening of the penis

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PDE5 Inhibitor

Drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction

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Phimosis

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

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Polydipsia

Excessive thirst which causes the patient to drink large amounts of fluid

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Polyuria

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

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Positron emission tomography (PET)

A scanning technique, occasionally used to assess the spread of cancer, which combines radio-isotope scanning with CT or MRI

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Priapism

A persistent, painful erection which occurs without sexual stimulation

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Prostate

A chestnut-sized organ lying at the bottom of the bladder which produces chemicals to nourish sperms and facilitate their transport to the female uterus

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Prostatectomy

Removal of the prostate gland by telescopic or open surgery

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Prostate-specific antigen (PSA)

A chemical released into the bloodstream by the prostate gland which may be raised in men with prostate cancer

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Prostatitis

Infection or inflammation of the prostate gland

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Prosthesis

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

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PSA doubling time

The time taken for the PSA level to double

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Pyelonephritis

Inflammation of the kidney, usually as a result of bacterial infection

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Quality of Life Score (QoL)

A means of assessing the impact of symptoms on the overall day-today activities

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Renal colic

Intermittent, excruciating pain produced by the passage of a stone from the kidney downwards towards the bladder

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Seminal vesicle

One of a pair of sacs lying behind the prostate gland which store seminal fluid and sperms in preparation for ejaculation

Seminoma

One of the two commonest forms of testicular cancer

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Sling

An artificial or natural material inserted, usually around the urethra, to resolve urinary incontinence

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Sphincter

A muscular, valve mechanism which prevents outflow from any organ in the body (e.g. bladder, bile ducts, rectum)

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Stent

A small tube or splint inserted to keep a tube or blood vessel open

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Stress incontinence

The involuntary leakage of urine during periods of raised abdominal pressure, usually during coughing, sneezing, laughing or lifting heavy objects

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Stricture

Abnormal scarring or narrowing of a hollow tube

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Symptom score

A simple questionnaire to determine the severity of a patient's symptoms

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Teratoma (NSGCT)

One of the two commonest forms of testicular cancer

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Testicular cancer

One of commonest tumours in young men; usually a seminoma or teratoma

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Testosterone

The main male hormone produced mainly by the testicles (but also, in small amounts, by the adrenal gands)

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TNM

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

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Transitional cell carcinoma

A malignant (cancerous) tumour arising from the internal lining of the urinary tract

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Transplantation

Surgical implantation of a donated organ to replace one which has failed to work effectively

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Transrectal ultrasound ( TRUS)

Ultrasound examination of the prostate using a probe that is inserted through the rectum

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Transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT)

Surgery performed through the urethra to remove  a tumour in the bladder

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Transurethral resection of prostate (TURP)

Surgery done through the urethra to remove tissue from the prostate gland – usually to help with sypmtoms

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Trial without catheter (TWOC)

Removal of a catheter from the bladder to re-establish normal passage of urine

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Ultrasound (U/S)

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

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Ureter

The thin, muscular tube which propels urine down from the kidneys to the bladder

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Ureteric colic See: Renal colic

Ureteroscopy (URS)

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

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Urethra

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

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Urgency

A sudden, irresistible desire to pass urine

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Urodynamics

A technique for assessing bladder function by filling the bladder with fluid or gas and measuring the pressure inside the bladder during filling

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Varicocoele

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

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Vas deferens

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

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Vasography

An X-ray examination performed through the vas deferens to establish the presence or absence of obstruction in the tubing

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Voiding

Passing urine

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Watchful waiting

One of the treatments used for prostate cancer as a controlling measure. Used in men who are unlikely to be cured from their cancer or have chosen not to have curative treatments

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