Commonly Performed Urology Tests

May 03,2019 |

If you need to get a urology test done, it’s probably a good idea to understand what urology is. Simply put, urology is a branch of health care that deals with male and female urinary tracts1. It involves the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Urology also includes the male organs used in reproduction, but excludes the female organs.

Urology, at its core, is a surgical specialty that helps to deal with the diseases of both male and female urinary tracts1. Urinary tract problems are possible regardless of age, so if you feel like you’re having problems or things aren’t regular, it’s time to see your urologist. When you make an appointment to see your urologist, there are a number of commonly performed tests used in diagnosing the underlying problem. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most commonly performed urology tests used in the office. Based on the results of the test, further monitoring, care, or surgery is recommended and you and your doctor will discuss the best plan of action for your circumstances.

Physical Exam

The most common urology test begins with a simple physical exam. Physical exams start with a series of questions to give your urologist a better understanding of your lifestyle and history. Come prepared with any symptoms that are present, a strong knowledge about your current health, medical history, and any medications you’re using2.

These questions help your urologist with their physical exam, as having the bigger picture is essential in making a proper diagnosis.

The physical exam will take place in the urologist’s office and include physical examination of your entire urinary tract system—including the kidneys, ureters, and bladder. If you’re having problems related to the penis or testicles, the examination will also include them2.

Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)

If you’re a male, the physical examination includes a digital rectal exam or DRE. This exam is performed to evaluate the prostate gland and look for enlargement or irregularities3. Digital rectal exams are done by inserting a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum and evaluating the prostate2. To read more about getting a DRE, check out this helpful article.

Blood Tests

To learn more about your urinary tract system and what is going awry, urologists rely a number of different blood tests. Using a standard procedure for drawing and examining blood, urologists are able to detect certain diseases or cancers. There are three common blood tests used.

1. Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Tests

This test focuses on detecting inflammation of the prostate, which is used to help determine the underlying cause. PSA tests do not detect cancer on their own. Even though many people think of them as the prostate cancer test, they are merely a way of indicating inflammation levels. If inflammation levels point to a risk of cancer, further tests need to be done for a proper diagnosis.

Specifically, the test measures the amount of protein currently being released from the prostate gland, which increases when there is inflammation2.

2. Creatinine and Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) Blood Tests

The next type of blood test is a creatinine and blood urea nitrogen test, which is used to assess how the kidneys are functioning through creatinine measurement. When you have high levels of creatinine in your blood, it’s oftentimes an indication that your kidneys aren’t functioning properly or efficiently2. Depending on the ratio of creatinine to blood urea nitrogen, your urologist will be able to diagnose the problem.

When your kidneys aren’t functioning well, the blood flow is thrown off. Sometimes, the problem is as simple as dehydration. Other times, it’s more serious and helps diagnose congestive heart failure2.

3. Testosterone Blood Tests

When evaluating male erectile dysfunction, your urologist will administer a testosterone blood test2. This will give a clear indication of your testosterone levels, which is the cause of a number of erectile dysfunction cases.

After your blood work, your urologist will walk through the results with you and explain any abnormalities, diseases, or causes for dysfunction. If you have any questions about upcoming blood tests, or are looking to schedule one, contact your urologist today. If you don’t have a urologist, talk to your doctor about getting a recommendation.

Urine Tests

If a blood test isn’t needed, or if your urologist wants to gather more information before a diagnosis, urine tests are administered. Urine tests usually all involve urinating into a sterile cup for analysis, but differ based on what’s being tested for.

Urinalysis

The most common urine test performed is a urinalysis. In fact, in most yearly physical exams, urinalyses are done even if there is no cause for concern. They’re used to test for bacteria, blood cells, and foreign substances that aren’t supposed to be living in your kidneys2.

Urinalyses are used to determine whether or not a urinary tract infection is present, in the diagnoses of diabetes, and to keep an eye out for early indications of disease.

Each of these diagnoses will have specific symptoms such as higher white blood cell counts, high protein levels or glucose levels, and the presence of leukesterase2. Your doctor will be able to better identify any problems that present themselves during a urinalysis.

Urine Cultures

Similarly, a urine culture is used to determine whether or not certain bacteria are present in a urine sample2. It’s more intensive, so this test needs to be preformed in a laboratory. Once isolated, it’s possible to test antibiotics on the urine cultures to see which treatment will be the most effective.

24-Hour Urine Test

If instructed that you need a 24-hour urine test, you will need to collect all of the urine you expel over the course of a 24-hour time peirod2. This allows urologists to determine if your body has normal levels of specific substances, which would indicate healthy kidneys. When things are abnormal, the test helps point urologists in the right direction of certain diseases.

Imaging Techniques

Other popular urology tests involve using imaging techniques to see problems that aren’t necessarily visible to the naked eye. The most frequently used imaging tool is a simple ultrasound. During an ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves are emitted that produce pictures of internal systems, organs, and foreign substances. Ultrasounds are able to detect problems such as those related to the kidneys, bladder, testicles, and prostate gland2.

Similarly, urologists also turn to X-ray scans to get a better picture and make accurate diagnoses. There are a few different types of X-ray scans most commonly used for urinary tract issues. They include2:

Depending on the results from using an ultrasound and/or an X-ray, other imaging tests may be needed. For a more detailed look inside the body, doctors and urologists use computerized tomography scans—commonly known as a CT scan.

Having a cystoscopy is a little more invasive. It requires local anesthetic prior to inserting a small telescope through the urethra and into the bladder2. This allows urologists to look around in real time and identify any abnormalities.

Semen Analysis (Seminogram)

While this isn’t the only other test that urologists perform, it’s the last of the routine exams. Semen analyses are done for males who are struggling with fertility problems. During a seminogram, a sample is examined in a laboratory to check the strength of a male’s sperm. Motility and quality are measured along with the evaluation of the number of sperm actually present2. Seminograms are also performed after every vasectomy to ensure that the procedure was successful.

Conclusion

If you find yourself with urology problems and need supplies or educational resources, visit Byram Healthcare today. We are a full-service urological care supplier and offer a wide selection of high quality urological supplies that are discreetly delivered to your home. At Byram, we also offer a team of knowledgeable urological customer service specialists to help answer questions and offer you personalized, confidential services. Learn more about Byram Healthcare's urology products and how we can help you with all of your needs.

Sources:
1http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/what-is-urology
2https://www.verywellhealth.com/urinalysis-what-is-a-urinalysis-3300157
3https://www.verywellhealth.com/prostate-examination-2329024

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