Glossary of Terms


Active surveillance: when prostate cancer is monitored by the Doctor with regular examinations, tests, and blood draws.

Androgen (AN-dro-jen): hormone that produces male characteristics (facial hair, deep voice, etc.). The main androgen hormone is testosterone.

Anti-androgen drug: A drug that blocks the activity of an androgen hormone.

Artificial urinary sphincter (AUS): Sometimes complicated cases of incontinence require implantation of a device known as an artificial urinary sphincter. People who might benefit from this treatment include those who are incontinent after surgery for prostate cancer or stress urinary incontinence, trauma victims and people with congenital defects in the urinary system. The artificial sphincter has three components, including a pump, balloon reservoir, and a cuff that encircles the urethra and prevents urine from leaking out. The cuff is connected to the pump, which is surgically implanted in the scrotum (in men) or labia (in women). The pump can be activated (usually by squeezing or pressing a button) to deflate the cuff and permit the bladder to empty. After a brief interval, the cuff refills itself and the urethra is again closed.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia: A condition in which the prostate becomes enlarged as part of the aging process.

Benign tumor: A tumor that is not cancerous.

Bilateral: A term describing a condition that affects both sides of the body or two paired organs, such as kidneys.

Biofeedback: A procedure that uses electrodes to help people gain awareness and control of their pelvic muscles.

Bladder: A hollow muscular balloon shaped organ that stores urine until it is excreted from the body.

Brachytherapy: Involves the placement of tiny radioactive pellets into the Prostate gland. By utilizing ultrasound to place the seed pellets, damage to surrounding tissues is minimized. Approximately 13,500-16,000 rads of radiation energy is delivered directly to the Prostate. This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. It is a one-time procedure with very effective results. The 10-year follow-up outcome data parallels that of Radical Prostatectomy.

Cancer: A tumor with abnormal cells that grow and divide without control. Cancer cells can spread through the blood and lymph to other parts of the body and pose a serious threat to a person's health.

Catheter: A tube passed through the body for draining fluids or injecting them into body cavities. It may be made of elastic, elastic web, rubber, glass, metal, or plastic.

Chancre: A hard, syphilitic primary ulcer, the first sign of syphilis, appearing approx. 2 to 3 weeks after infection. The ulcer begins as a painless lesion or papule that ulcerates. Occurs generally singly, but sometimes may be multiple.

Chemotherapy: Treatment with powerful drugs that attack cancer cells.

Corpora cavernosa: Two chambers in the penis which run the length of the organ and are filled with spongy tissue. Blood flows in and fills the open spaces in the spongy tissue to create an erection.

Cryotherapy: During an operation probes are placed in the prostate. The probes are then frozen which kills the prostatic cells.

Cyst: A lump filled with either fluid or soft material, occurring in any organ or tissue; may occur for a number of reasons but is usually harmless unless its presence disrupts organ or tissue function.

Cystectomy: Surgical removal of the bladder.

Cystocele: A herniation of bladder into vagina.

Cystoscopy: A flexible scope is inserted into the urethra and then into the bladder to determine abnormalities in the bladder and lower urinary tract.

Detrusor-external sphincter dyssynergia (DESD): Damage to the nervous system can create a lack of coordination between the bladder and the external sphincter muscle, which is the muscle that controls the emptying of the bladder. As a result the bladder cannot empty completely which creates a buildup of urinary pressure. DESD is a combination of these two factors and can lead to severe urinary tract damage and life-threatening consequences.

DRE - digital rectal examination: An examination performed by a physician in which a gloved, lubricated finger is inserted into the rectum to feel the prostate.

Ejaculation: Ejection of semen during male orgasm.

Ejaculation, retrograde: The discharge of semen into the bladder rather than through the urethra and out of the body.

Electrohydraulic lithotripsy (EHL):This technique uses a special probe to break up small stones with shock waves generated by electricity.

Estrogen: Hormones responsible for the development of female sex characteristics; produced by the ovary.

External beam radiation therapy: A 25-28 treatment protocol that utilizes External Beam Radiation. Approximately 6800-7400 rads of radiation energy is delivered to the Prostate. There can be some radiation effect on surrounding tissues.

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL): Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy uses highly focused impulses projected from outside the body to pulverize kidney stones.

Hormonal therapy: Involves the use of anti-androgens. An androgen is a male hormone needed for the production of testosterone. By depriving the cancer cells of the testosterone they need for growth, tumors regress in size and cellular activity.

Hydrocele: A painless swelling of the scrotum, caused by a collection of fluid around the testicle; commonly occurs in middle-aged men.

Hypermobility: A condition characterized in which the pelvic floor muscles can no longer provide the necessary support to the urethra and bladder neck. As a result, the bladder neck drops when any downward pressure is applied and causing involuntary leakage. This condition is the most common cause of stress urinary incontinence.

Hyperplasia: Excessive growth of normal cells of an organ.

Impotence: Inability to have an erection.

Incontinence: Loss of urinary control.

InterStim sacsral neuromodulation therapy: A therapy used in treating urge incontinence. A device, about the size of a pacemaker, that is implanted into the sacral nerves of the lower spine, where it delivers electrical impulses that help regulate bladder function.

Interstitial laser: A laser probe is placed within prostatic tissue. Laser energy is then used to destroy prostatic tissue which makes urination easier.

Intrinsic sphincter deficiency (ISD): Weakening of the urethra sphincter muscles. As a result of this weakening the sphincter does not function normally regardless of the position of the bladder neck or urethra. This condition is a common cause of stress urinary incontinence.

Irritable bladder: Involuntary contractions of muscles in the bladder, which can cause lack of control of urination.

Kegel exercises: Exercises is to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which leads to more control and prevents leakage.

Kidney: One of a pair of organs located at the back of the abdominal cavity. Kidneys make urine through blood filtration.

Kidney stone: A hard mass composed of substances from the urine that form in the kidneys.

Laparoscopy: Surgery using an laparoscope to visualize internal organ through a small incision. Generally less invasive than traditional surgeries requiring a shorter recovery period.

Lithotripsy: A procedure done to break up stones in the urinary tract using ultrasonic shock waves, so that the fragments can be easily passed from the body.

Luteinizing hormone: This hormone, also called LH, is secreted by the pituitary gland. LH stimulates the secretion of sex hormones in both men and women.

Lymph nodes: Small bean-shaped structures scattered along the vessels of the lymphatic system. The nodes filter bacteria and cancer cells that may travel through the system.

Malignant: A term for a tumor that can threaten a person's life, that is, a tumor that is cancerous. Malignant has the same meaning as cancerous.

Metastasis: The spreading of a cancerous tumor to another part of the body.

Nephrectomy: Removal of an entire kidney.

Open nephrolithotomy: is the most invasive procedure for removing kidney stones. Either the ureter or the kidney is opened and the stone extracted.

Orchiectomy: The surgical removal of one or both of the testicles.

Orchitis: Inflammation of a testicle.

Oncologist: A doctor who specializes in treating cancer.

Overactive bladder: A condition characterized by involuntary bladder muscle contractions during the bladder-filling phase which the patient cannot suppress.

Overflow UI: Leakage of small amounts of urine from a bladder that is always full.

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCN): Percutaneous means "though the skin." In PCN, the surgeon or urologist makes a 1-centimeter incision under local anesthesia in the patient's back, through which an instrument called a nephroscope is passed directly into the kidney and, if necessary, the ureter. Smaller stones may be manually extracted. Large ones may need to be broken up with ultrasonic, electrohydraulic or laser- tipped probes before they can be extracted. A tube may be inserted into the kidney for drainage.

Pelvic muscle exercises: Pelvic muscle exercises are intended to improve your pelvic muscle tone and prevent leakage for sufferers of Stress Urinary Incontinence. Also called Kegel exercises. (see biofeedback)

Periurethral bulking injections: A surgical procedure in which injected implants are used to "bulk up" the area around the neck of the bladder allowing it to resist increases in abdominal pressure which can push down on the bladder and cause leakage.

Post-void residual (PVR) volume: A diagnostic test which measures how much urine remains in the bladder after urination. Specific measurement of PVR volume can be accomplished by catheterization, pelvic ultrasound, radiography, or radioisotope studies.

Prostaglandin: Any of various oxygenated unsaturated cyclic fatty acids of animals that have a variety of hormone like actions (as in controlling blood pressure or smooth muscle contraction).

Prostate: A muscular, walnut-sized gland that surrounds part of the urethra. It secretes seminal fluid, a milky substance that combines with sperm (produced in the testicles) to form semen.

Prostatectomy: Surgical removal of the prostate.

  • Suprapubic / retropubic prostatectomy: This involves the removal of obstructing prostatic tissue through a supra-pubic incision ( a cut below the belly button ). The Prostate is not wholly removed. Suprapubic Prostatectomy requires incising the bladder to remove the obstructing tissue while a Retropubic approach involves incising the Prostatic capsule to remove the obstructing tissue. Both approaches utilize an abdominal incision.
  • Radical retropubic prostatectomy: Removal of prostate through an abdominal incision. The prostate is completely removed. The advantage is that the lymph nodes can be sampled at the time of the operation and the nerve-sparing procedure is easier to do via this operation.

Prostatic stent: Inserted through a cystoscope, it is a wire device that expands after placement thus pushing prostate tissue away from passageway allowing for easier urination.

Prostatitis: Inflammation of the prostate

PSA - prostate-specific antigen: A blood substance that often increases in cases of prostate cancer and other prostate diseases.

Pubovaginal sling: A surgical procedure in which a man-made or cadaveric piece of material is placed under the bladder neck to support and immobilize. This technique improves sphincter function and decreases bladder neck movement, improving continence.

Pyelonephritis: Inflammation of the kidney, usually due to a bacterial infection.

Pyuria: The presence of pus in the urine; usually an indication of kidney or urinary tract infection.

Radiation therapy: Treatment with high-energy rays such as those from x-rays or other sources of radiation.

Rectum: The last 5 or 6 inches of the intestine leading to the outside of the body.

Retropubic prostatectomy: An operation to remove the prostate gland through a cut made in the lower abdomen.

Scrotum: The external sac, or pouch, containing the testicles.

Seminal vesicles: Pouches inside the body above the prostate that store semen.

Sexually transmitted disease (STD): Infections that are most commonly spread through sexual intercourse or genital contact.

Sling procedures: Surgical methods for treating urinary incontinence involving the placement of a sling, made either of tissue obtained from the person undergoing the sling procedure or a synthetic material. The sling is anchored to retropubic and/or abdominal structures.

Sphincter: A ring of muscle fibers located around an opening in the body that regulates the passage of substances.

Stress test: A diagnostic test that requires patients to lift something or perform an exercise to determines if there is urine loss when stress is placed on bladder muscles.

Stress urinary incontinence: the involuntary loss of urine during period of increased abdominal pressure. Such events include laughing, sneezing, coughing or lifting heavy objects.

Testosterone: The sex hormone that stimulates development of male sex characteristics and bone and muscle growth; produced by the testicles and in small amounts by the ovaries.

TUMT (transurethral microwave thermotherapy): A catheter is placed within the bladder and positioned within the prostate, then the antenna emits microwaves. This procedure increases the passageway

TUNA (transurethral needle ablation): The instrument is placed into prostate tissue through cystoscope the tissue between the needles is destroyed via thermal energy.

TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate): A surgical telescope is used to core out the inside of the prostate (urethra) creating a larger channel making the passage of urine easier. This is the gold standard for treatment of BPH.

Ureter: The tube that carries urine from each kidney to the bladder.

Ureteroscopy: A flexible, fiberoptic instrument resembling a long, thin telescope is inserted through the urethra and bladder up to the ureter to visualize the tube. Often used for retrieval of kidney stones.

Urethra: The tube running through the penis to the outside of the body. It carries urine from the bladder and semen from the sex glands.

Urinalysis: A group of physical and chemical tests done on a sample of urine to check for various disorders, including those of the kidneys and urinary tract.

Urinary incontinence: (UI) Involuntary loss of urine sufficient to be a problem. There are several types of Ul, but all are characterized by an inability to restrain voiding.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs): UTIs are caused by bacteria that invade the urinary system and multiply, leading to an infection.

Urodynamic tests: Diagnostic tests to examine the bladder and urethral sphincter function.

Urologist: A doctor who specializes in diseases of the male sex organs and in diseases of the urinary organs in both men and women.

Varicocelectomy: The cutting away of a varicocele.

Vasovasostomy: A vasectomy reversal, the re-connection of the severed ends of the vas deferens restoring the flow of sperm through the vas deferens.

Watchful waiting: When a prostate cancer is simply watched by the doctor using regular examinations and blood tests. 

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