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

Active monitoring
A term which describes careful & close monitoring of a condition (usually cancer) without any treatment, with specific intervention being used only when there are clear signs of the disease progressing

A cancerous tumour developing from the glandular component of any organ (in urology, this usually applies to the prostate or kidney)

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

See: Cystinuria

A drug used to relieve pain (a painkiller)

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

A drug that blocks the effects of the male hormone (testosterone), often used in the treatment of prostate cancer

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

Anti-inflammatory (NSAID)
A drug which reduces inflammation and helps to relieve pain; often used to treat prostatitis and the pain of kidney stones

Assisted conception
Fertility treatment utilising sperm retrieval and preparation by artificial insemination (AI), in vitro fertilisation (IVF), sperm microinjection (ICSI) or transfer of a fertilised egg to the Fallopian tube (GIFT)

Derived or transferred from the patient’s own body

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

Inflammation/infection of the tip of the penis

Balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO)
A scarring disease of the foreskin, of unknown cause, which results in a tight foreskin

See: Immunotherapy

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
Benign enlargement of the prostate gland, invariably seen with increasing age

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

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

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

Bladder instability
See: Overactive bladder

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

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

Calcium oxalate
The commonest 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 in the prostate or bladder

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

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

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

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

The use of drugs to treat cancer

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

Chronic retention of urine
See: Overflow incontinence

Surgical removal of the foreskin, usually performed for phimosis

Clavien (Clavien-Dindo) classification
A grading system for measuring the severity of surgical complications

An operation in which stitches are inserted to lift up the bladder neck and correct stress incontinence

The presence of one or more additional disorders (or diseases), together with a primary disease or disorder, which increase(s) a patient’s susceptibility to complications

Computerised tomography (CT)
A form of X-ray where slices are taken through the body to produce images at different levels

Corpora cavernosa
The two erectile cylinders running along the length of the penis which fill with blood during erection

A waste product filtered from the blood by the kidneys and expelled in the urine

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

Surgical removal of the bladder, usually for invasive cancer

An inherited disorder of metabolism which results in high levels of the amino acid cystine in the urine and leads to formation of cystine stones

Inflammation of the internal lining of the bladder

Prolapse of the bladder into the vagina

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

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 (and emptying)

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

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

Cytoreductive surgery
The surgical removal of part of a malignant tumour (which cannot be completely removed) in order to reduce the bulk of the tumour and make radiation or chemotherapy more likely to be effective

See: Cytoreductive surgery

Detrusor muscle
The interlocking fibres which form the muscle of the bladder wall

See: Haemodialysis

Digital rectal examination (DRE, PR)
Examination of the back passage with a gloved finger, usually to feel the prostate gland

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

Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO)
A chemical solution instilled into the bladder to help painful bladder conditions such as interstitial (abacterial) cystitis

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

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

Painful passage of urine

Lying in the wrong place as a result of an inherited abnormality; can apply to any struture in the body but most commonly seen with testicles and kidneys

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

A generic term for inspection of the internal lining of organs of the urinary tract using a telescope and an illuminating light source

Prolapse of the small or large bowel into the back part of the vagina

Incontinence of urine at night usually considered synonymous with bedwetting

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

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

Erectile deformity
See: Peyronie’s disease

Erectile dysfunction (MED)
Impotence: the inability to obtain or maintain an erection sufficient for penetration and the satisfaction of both sexual partners

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

Exstrophy / Ectopia vesicae
A congenital condition where the bladder remains on the surface of the lower abdomen open to the outside

Extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy (ESWL)
Shockwaves generated in water, focussed and fired through the body to fragment stones in the kidney or ureter

Leakage of urine or surgical irrigation fluid outside the urinary tract

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)

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

Passing urine too often, usually during the day

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

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

Haematospermia (haemospermia)
Blood in the semen during ejaculation

Blood in the urine


Filtration of the blood using an external machine to remove harmful waste products in patients whose own kidneys have failed

A specialised molecule, found only in red blood cells, which transports oxygen around the body via the bloodstream; a shortage of haemoglobin is known as anaemia.

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

High Intensity Focussed Ultrasound (HIFU)
The use of high-energy, focused sound waves to destroy abnormal tissues or organs, currently only used experimentally on the prostate & kidney

High-Dependency Unit (HDU)
A ward area where intermediate care is provided for patients who require more careful monitoring than is available on a normal ward

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

See: Histology

Horseshoe kidney
A rare, congenital abnormality where the two kidneys are joined together across the midline to form an inverted horseshoe

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

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

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)

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

See: Erectile dysfunction

In vitro fertilisation (IVF)
See: Assisted conception

Involuntary leakage of urine

Inferior vena cava
A large vein that carries de-oxygenated blood from the lower body, and lower torso, to the heart.

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

Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU, ICU)
A ward area where advanced life-support measures can be given to critically-ill patients before or after surgery

International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF)
A symptom score to determine the severity of erectile & ejaculatory function and their impact on quality of life

International Prostate Symptom Score (I-PSS)
See: Symptom score

Interstitial cystitis
See: Abacterial cystitis

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

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

Juxta-glomerular apparatus (JGA)
A specialised cluster of blood vessels, within each kidney, which secretes hormones that govern blood pressure & salt balance in the body

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

Kidney cancer (renal cancer)
A tumour arising from the kidney, usually an adenocarcinoma

Kidney transplant
See: Transplantation

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

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

Length of stay
The number of nights that a patient stays in hospital following a surgical or investigative procedure

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

Wearing away of a stone; usually synonymous with ESWL

Lymphadenectomy (lymph node dissection)
Surgical removal of lymph nodes to determine whether they are involved with cancer

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

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

See: Voiding

A diseased state, disability, or poor health

Mortality rate
A measure of the number of deaths in a given population

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

See: Yttrium Aluminium Garnet

Necrotising fasciitis
See: Fournier’s gangrene

Surgical removal of the kidney

See: Wilm’s tumour

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

Surgical removal of the kidney and ureter (the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder), usually performed for a malignant tumour of the inner lining of the kidney or ureter

Abnormal passage of urine at night

Non-Seminomatous Germ Cell Tumour (NSGCT)
See: Teratoma

Nuclear magentic resonance (NMR)
See: Magnetic resonance imaging

The surgical removal of one or both testicles

Inflammation (or infection) of a testicle

Overactive bladder (OAB)
A condition caused by involuntary bladder contractions during filling which cannot be suppressed

Overflow incontinence
Leakage of urine from a bladder which is permanently full

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

Partial nephrectomy
Surgical removal of part of the kidney

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

Peritoneal dialysis (PD)
Removal of waste products from patients with kidney failure by washout of the abdominal (peritoneal) cavity through a specially-inserted catheter

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

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

Photoselective vaporisation of prostate (PVP)
See: Green light laser

Plasma cell balanitis
See: Zoon’s balanitis

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

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

Positron emission tomography (PET)
A scanning technique, occasionally used to assess the spread of cancer, which combines radio-isotope scanning with CT or MRI

A persistent, painful erection which occurs without sexual stimulation

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

Removal of the prostate gland by telescopic or open surgery

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
A chemical released into the bloodstream by the prostate gland which may be raised in men with prostate cancer

Infection or inflammation of the prostate gland

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

See: Pyelonephritis

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

Quality of Life Score (QoL)
A means of assessing the impact of symptoms on the overall day-today activities of patients

Radio frequency ablation (RFA)
Destruction of an organ or tissue using inserted needles which produce microwave-type energy

Radio-isotope scanning (nuclear medicine imaging)
The use of low-dose, radioactive agents injected into the body to demonstrate structure and function of tissues or organs

See: Enterocele

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

See: Radio-isotope scanning

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

One of the two commonest forms of testicular cancer

See: Vascular Access

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

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

Spina bifida
A congenital defect in the bones of the spinal column, often affecting the spinal cord, resulting in neurological defects in the lower part of the body

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

See: Infertility

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI)
The involuntary leakage of urine during periods of raised abdominal pressure (e.g. coughing, sneezing, laughing or lifting)

Abnormal scarring or narrowing of a hollow tube

Struvite (triple phosphate)
A type of kidney stone, usually caused by infection and often occurring in women, consisting of calcium, magnesium & ammonium phosphate

Symptom score
A simple questionnaire to determine the severity of a patient’s symptoms (e.g. chronic pelvic pain symptoms, prostate symptoms, erectile dysfunction)

Teratoma (NSGCT)
One of the two commonest forms of testicular cancer

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

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

Destruction of an organ or tissue by heating to a high temperature

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

Administration of blood (or blood products) by intravenous injection

Transfusion rate
The proportion of patients (expressed as a percentage, %) requiring a blood transfusion following surgery

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

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

Transurethral resection (TUR)
Usually of the prostate gland (TURP) or of a tumour in the bladder (TURBT)

Trial without catheter (TWOC)
Removal of a catheter from the bladder to re-establish normal passage of urine

See: Erection


See: Trial without catheter

Ultrasound (U/S)
High-frequency sound waves used diagnostically to determine the nature of tissues by reflecting sound waves off them

A communication between the umbilicus and the top of the bladder which normally closes before birth but may persist abnormally into later life

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

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

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

A sudden, irresistible desire to pass urine

Uric acid (urate)
A chemical, eliminated in the urine, whose levels can build up in the body (to produce gout) or in the kidneys (to produce stones)

See: Cystometrogram

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

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

Vascular Access
A means of connecting an artery to a vein (either in the arm or leg) to allow the vein to be used for haemodialysis.

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

Passing urine

Von Hippel Lindau disease (VHL)
A rare, inherited condition causing tumours and cysts in the retina, brain and kidneys

See: Irrigation

Watchful waiting
See: Active monitoring

WHO performance status
A grading system, devised by the World Health Organisation, for assessing patient fitness:

  • 0: able to carry out all normal activity without restriction
  • 1: restricted in strenuous activity but ambulatory and able to carry out light work
  • 2: ambulatory and capable of all self-care but unable to carry out any work activities; up and about more than 50% of waking hours
  • 3: symptomatic and in a chair or in bed for greater than 50% of the day but not bedridden
  • 4: completely disabled; cannot carry out any self-care; totally confined to bed or chair

Wilm’s tumour
A form of kidney cancer, also known as a nephroblastoma, occurring predominantly in children

A picture taken using non-visible wavelengths of light to produce images of parts of the body

Yttrium Aluminium Garnet (YAG)
A type of laser energy produced by generating laser light in a neodymium-yttrium aluminium garnet (YAG) crystal

Zoon’s balanitis (plasma cell balanitis)
A type of inflammation of the foreskin and penis, only seen in the uncircumcised, characterised by dense infiltration of the tissues with plasma cells