Urology Glossary

Dr. Shaw and his team are urology experts. Our patients… are not. In order to help you understand the care you receive at Austin Urology Institute, we’ve put together this simple glossary of common urologic terms.


Pocket of puss that forms at the site of infected tissue.


Inflammation of the glans penis. The most common complication from balanitis is phimosis.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

Nonmalignant, excessive growth of prostate cells. Signs and symptoms include: hesitancy, frequency, weak stream, incomplete emptying, nocturia, urgency, hematuria, UTI or retention.

Bio Feedback

Done in our office, retraining the pelvic floor muscles by isolating the muscle groups in that area. Usually there are 6 weekly appointments 30 minutes long.

Brachytherapy (Radiation Seed Therapy)

Implantation of radioactive seeds into the prostate. Most often the seeds are inserted through the skin of the perineum and left in indefinitely. Men with a large, high-grade cancer and a PSA > 10 are likely to fail this treatment. Side effects include: irritation of the urinary tract, urgency, frequency, burning, hematuria, retention, and impotence.


Build up of calcium in body tissues causing the tissues to harden and can be seen with x-ray.

Calcium Oxalate

Chemical compound that forms needle-shaped crystals. Most kidney stones are caused by calcium oxalate.




tubular instrument passed through urethra into bladder to drain urine.


Removal of the foreskin (prepuce), a fold of skin that covers and protects the rounded tip of the penis.


Level of waste product in your blood and how well your kidneys are filtering.


Inflammation of the urinary bladder causing pelvic discomfort, urinary pressure, and bladder pain. Bacterial cystitis, caused by coliform bacteria, is the most common type being transferred from the bowel through the urethra. Interstitial cystitis is considered more of an injury to the bladder and rarely involves the presence of infection. The cause of IC is unknown but there are several therapies available.


Occurs when the wall between a woman’s bladder and vagina weakens and allows the bladder to drop into the vagina.


A test that allows the doctor to look at the interior lining of the bladder (in office procedure).


An x-ray that takes pictures of the bladder and urethra while urinating. A thin flexible cath is placed into the bladder and contrast dye is injected into the bladder.


Or freeze therapy, is a newer treatment that is being used to treat initial or recurrent prostate cancer. Under regional or general anesthesia multiple small probes are placed under sonographic guidance, through the perineum, (area between rectum and scrotum), into the prostate. By circulating argon gas through the probes, the prostate and some surrounding tissues are converted into an ice ball. As the ice ball is repeatedly formed and thawed, the cells are killed, and the area shrinks and is eventually replaced by scar tissue. A catheter is left in place for a period of time, and the patient goes home the same day. Pain is minimal, but it takes a period of time for the killed tissue to pass and allow for normal voiding. Some patients require catheterization for several weeks to months or occasionally trans urethral surgery to remove the killed tissue.

Direct-Vision Internal Urethrotomy (DVIU)

A surgical procedure used to treat urethral strictures due to scarring. A small cut is made to fix the narrowing of the urethra (in office procedure).

Di-Urinal Enuresis

Daytime wetting or leaking during the day.


Painful or difficult urination.


Propulsion of semen from genital ducts and urethra.


Wetting or leaking.


Tubular structure that is a reservoir for sperm.


Inflammation of the tubular structure that connects the testicle with the vas deferens. This can cause swelling of the scrotum, testicular pain, and fever that can last up to 6 weeks.


The tissue that lines the uterus is found to be growing outside the uterus, on or in other areas of the body. Normally, the endometrium is shed each month during the menstrual cycle; however, in endometriosis, the misplaced endometrium is usually unable to exit the body. The endometriotic tissues still detach and bleed, but the result is far different: internal bleeding, degenerated blood and tissue shedding, inflammation of the surrounding areas, pain, and formation of scar tissue may result. In addition, depending on the location of the growths, interference with the normal function of the bowel, bladder, small intestines and other organs within the pelvic cavity can occur.


A procedure to destroy tissue, such as a tumor, using an electric current (in office procedure).


Blood in the semen.


Blood in the urine.


Protrusion of a part of a structure through the tissues that contain it.


Swelling of the kidneys secondary to the obstruction of urine flow in any part of the urinary tract. It implies that a/both ureters and renal pelvis are over filled with urine.


A collection of watery fluid around the testicle causing scrotal swelling, usually without pain.


Urethral opening on bottom side of penis.


Inability to prevent urine from coming out. Types: Urge, Stress, mixed: urine and bowel.

Interstitial Cystitis

Inflammation inside the bladder wall.

Intravenous Pylogram

A type of x-ray specifically designed to study the kidneys, bladder and ureters. X-rays consist of electromagnetic waves of energy that penetrate the body to varying extents depending on the density of the structure being viewed. Contrast dye is also used with this procedure.


Lack of ability to urinate.

Kidney Stone

Calculi inside kidney or component of kidney. (See Nephrolithiasis).


X-ray of kidney, ureter & bladder. Usually performed after an ESWL or to assure stent placement.


Shock waves that break-up stones in the bladder, kidney, ureters, or gall bladder. The most common is extracorporeal shock wave Lithotripsy (ESWL). This uses sound waves to break up kidney stones so they can move through the urinary tract.

Meatal Stenosis

Narrowing of the opening of the urethra. Symptoms include: abnormal strength of stream, dysuria, incontinence, hematuria, UTIs.


An incision made to enlarge a meatus due to stenosis or urethral stricture.


External opening of urethra.

Nephrolithiasis (Kidney Stones)

The key process in the development of kidney stones is supersaturation. This process involves salts that are carried in urine. Such salts may include calcium oxalate, uric acid, cystine, or xanthine. These salts can become extremely concentrated under certain circumstances: if the volume of urine is significantly reduced; or if abnormally high amounts of crystal-forming salts are present. When concentration levels reach the point at which the salts no longer dissolve, they precipitate out and form crystals. Signs and symptoms include flank pain that can be severe and come in waves, gross hematuria. Patient can also be asymptomatic with painless hematuria.


Frequent night time urination that interrupts sleep cycles.

Nocturnal Enuresis



Inability of urine to flow from kidney to ureter to bladder and out related to a blockage, usually from a kidney stone.


Removal of the testicles which eliminates the sources of androgen production. This may help relieve symptoms, prevent complications, and prolong survival for pts with advanced prostate CA.


Surgery to move an undescended testicle into the scrotum.


Acute inflammation reaction of the testis secondary to infection.


Is a medical emergency when the foreskin has been retracted and unable to pull over head of penis. Can become necrotic in a short amount of time.


An appliance inserted in vagina to support the uterus.

Peyronie’s Disease

The most common symptom of Peyronie’s Disease is a curvature, lump or hard area observed in the penis. Painful erections and penile pain are also symptoms of this condition. The lumps or hard areas also referred to as plaque or scar tissue form between the tunica and the outer layers of skin. The plaque or scarring also reduces the elasticity to the affected area; it will not stretch as the surrounding, unaffected tissues. The erect penis bends in the direction of the scar or plaque formation as a result of this, often with associated pain.


Medical condition in which the foreskin of the penis of an uncircumcised male cannot be fully retracted.


Passage of a large volume of urine in a given period of time.


Painful erection not caused by sexual arousal lasting more than 4 hours.


A sinking of an organ or other part. Common with uterus and bladders to protrude out of vagina.


Exocrine gland wraps around the urethra that helps expel semen.


Surgical removal of all or part of the prostate gland.


Inflammation of the prostate gland. Signs and symptoms: chills, fever, lower back and genital pain, frequency, urgency, dysuria, UTIs.

Post Void Residual (PVR)

A test to determine how much urine is obtained after patient urinates completely.


Infection of the kidney and the ducts that carry urine away from the kidneys. Causes include ascending bacteria from lower UTIs; mainly cystitis and prostatitis. Signs and symptoms include high fevers, dysuria, vomiting, and backaches.


Prolapse or herniation of the rectum.

Renal Cell Carcinoma

Most common form of kidney cancer. Resistant to radiation and chemotherapy. Classic triad of symptoms: hematuria, flank pain, abdominal mass.

Renal Failure

When the kidneys fail to function properly and described as a decrease in glomurual filtration rate. An elevated serum creatinine is the most widely used test to assess renal function.

Renal Hypertension

Hypertension produced by diseases of the kidney resulting in decreased perfusion of renal tissue due to stenosis of a main or branch renal artery-this activates the rennin-angiotensin system.

Retrograde Urethrogram

X-rays while contrast dye is being injected into the urethra.


An extension of the abdomen that is a bag of skin and muscle containing the testicles.


Fluid that contains spermatozoa and secreted by the gonads.

Seminal Vesicles

A pair of simple tubular glands that secrete a large portion of the fluid that becomes semen.


Usually a circular muscle structure which maintains constriction of a natural body passage or orifice and relaxes as requires.


Device used to provide support and keep ureter open during or after a procedure such as an ESWL, allowing urine to pass through.


An operation which renders a person unable to procreate.


Also called “infection stones” occur only in the presence of urine persistently infected with bacteria. Unlike other types of kidney stones, struvite stones may not cause a lot of symptoms directly. You may experience some mild flank pain and/or blood in the urine, but they are usually diagnosed as part of a workup for recurrent UTIs, mild flank pain, blood in the urine, kidney failure, or an incidental finding on a radiology study. Struvite stones can rapidly grow into large staghorn stones which can lead to overwhelming infection (called sepsis) or acute kidney failure. Also, persistent infections can cause kidney scarring over time leading to chronic kidney failure.


Narrowing or stenosis of the urethra.

Suprapubic Catheter

Indwelling catheter that passes through lower abdomen into bladder to allow urine to pass.


Male generative gland.

Testicular Torsion

Medical Emergency where the testicle is not receiving blood flow either related to it twisting or from trauma. Becomes necrotic in an hour.


Steroid hormone secreted primarily in the testes and ovaries.

Transurethral Microwave Thermotherapy (TUMT)

Involves the insertion of a specially designed Foley-type cath into the bladder allowing a microwave antenna to be positioned into the Prostatic fossa. Microwaves are then created to heat and destroy the hyperplasic prostate tissue.

Transurethral Resection of Prostate (TURP)

Removal of a section of the prostate to allow urine flow.

Transurethral Bladder Resection (TURBT)

Used to view the inside of the bladder, remove tissue samples and/or tumors.

Ureteropelvic Junction

Funnel between renal pelvis and ureters that urine passes through.


Ducts that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.


A birth defect in which one of the ureters is constantly swollen.


Canal that allow urine to be released out of the body. Longer in men than in women.


Inflammation of urethra.

Uric Acid

White crystals in urine that often form stones.

Urinary Meatus

Opening of the urethra situated on the glans penis in males and vulva in females.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Infection common in urethra that can cause pain, burning and low grade temperatures. Common if dehydrated.

Urinalysis (UA)

Test performed to determine if there is microscopic hematuria or infection.


The process of forming stones in the kidney, bladder, and/or urethra.

Urodynamic Study

Test performed in the office that can take up to 2 hours. Shows how the bladder is functioning, if there is an obstruction and what pressure point a patient will leak urine.


When veins along the spermatic cord dilate. The spermatic cord suspends the testicles in the scrotum. They occur when valves are not functioning properly which prevents normal blood flow. This causes blood to back up and dilate the veins.

Vas Deferens

Narrow muscular tube that connects the testicles to the urethra. During ejaculation, sperm flows out of the testicles through the vas deferens, into the urethra, out the penis.


Involves blocking the tubes which sperm passes into the semen (in office procedure).

Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG)

X-rays while urine flows out of the bladder.

Vesicoureteric Reflux

An anatomical abnormality that allows urine to flow from the bladder back into the ureters.