Our extensive glossary is here to help you understand the sometimes confusing urological terminology you’ll encounter as you receive your treatment and care.




BCG – vaccine used for the treatment of bladder cancer. BCG is mixed and instilled in the bladder. Patient returns for weekly instillations for 6-8 weeks.

Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) – enlargement of the prostate associated with aging.

Biopsy – (v.) to remove a sample of tissue for diagnostic evaluation; (n.) tissue specimen.

Bladder – hollow, muscular, balloon-shaped organ that stores urine until it is excreted.

Brachytherapy – a procedure in which radioactive material is sealed in needles, seeds, wires or catheters is placed directly into or near a tumor. Also called internal radiation, implant radiation, or interstitial radiation therapy.


Calculi – “stone”, usually refers to renal calculi or “kidney stone: (also see lithiasis).

Catheter – most often refers to a tube that drains the bladder, through the urethra, but can refer to any tube that drains.

Circumcision – operation to remove all or part of the foreskin.

Clinical Trial – a type of research that uses volunteers to test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease. The trial may be carried out in a clinic or other medical facility. Also called a clinical study.

Cryosurgery – treatment performed with an instrument that freezes and destroys abnormal tissue.

Cystitis – inflammation of the bladder, usually from infection but can refer to any cause of inflammation such as radiation cystitis or interstitial cystitis.

Cystocele – herniation of the bladder into the vagina; commonly referred to as “bladder drop”.

Cystoscopy – looking into the urinary bladder with an instrument called a cystoscope. The bladder is filled with sterile water; the bladder is expanded and able to then be visualized with the scope that has a light source.


Dilation – in urologic terms, the stretching of the opening from the bladder (urethra).


Enuresis – usually refers to nocturnal enuresis or “bedwetting”.



Genitourinary System – the parts of the body that play a role in reproduction and getting rid of waste products in the form of urine, or both.

Grade – the grade of a tumor depends on how abnormal the cancer cells look under a microscope and how quickly the tumor is likely to grow and spread. Grading systems are different for each type of cancer.


Hematuria – blood in the urine, visible or microscopic

Hernia – protrusion of a part or structure through the tissues normally containing it.

Hormonal Therapy – treatment that adds, blocks or removes hormones. For certain conditions (such as diabetes or menopause), hormones are given to adjust low hormone levels. To slow or stop the growth of certain cancers (such as prostate or breast cancer), synthetic hormones or other drugs may be given to block the body’s natural hormones. Sometimes surgery is needed to remove the gland that makes the hormones. Also called hormone therapy, hormone treatment, or endocrine treatment.

Hydrocele – literally “water sac”, a collection of fluid in the scrotum that surrounds the testicle.


Impotence – inability to achieve or maintain an erection. May be caused by psychological, vascular or neurological dysfunction.

Incontinence – the involuntary voiding of urine.

Infertility – diminished or absent ability to produce offspring.

Interstitial Cystitis – disease characterized by pain with bladder filling. This diagnosis is only considered when other causes of pain or urgency have been evaluated.



Kidney Stone (renal calculi,nephrolithiasis) – hard mass composed of urine elements that form in the kidneys.


Lithiasis – stone, as in “nephrolithiasis”.

Lithotripsy – procedure that uses ultrasonic shock waves to break up stones in the urinary tract so their fragments can be passed.


Malignant – cancerous malignant tumors can invade and destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

Medical Oncologist – a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer using chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and biological therapy. A medical oncologist often is the main health care provider for a person who has cancer. A medical oncologist also may coordinate treatment provided by other specialists.


Nephrolithiasis – stone, found within the kidney.

Nocturnal Enuresis – incontinence that occurs at night or while a person is sleeping. Known as “bedwetting”.


Orchiectomy – surgery to remove one or both of the testicles.


Pathologist – a doctor who identifies diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.

Pelvic muscle exercises – pelvic muscle exercises intended to improve pelvic muscle tone and prevent leakage associated with stress urinary incontinence; kegel exercises

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

Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) – a substance produced by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an infection or inflammation of the prostate.

Prostatitis – inflammation of the prostate gland.

Provenge – an autologous cellular immunotherapy designed to stimulate a patient’s immune system to identify and target prostate cancer cells.



Renal – refers to the kidney; also “nephro”.

Risk Factor – something that may increase the chance of developing a disease. Some examples of risk factors for cancer include age, family history of certain cancers, use of tobacco products, certain eating habits, obesity, exposure to radiation or cancer-causing agents, and certain genetic changes.


Sling procedures – surgical methods for treating urinary incontinence involving the placement of a sling, made of either a synthetic material or tissue obtained from the person undergoing the procedure.

Spermatocele – cyst of the epididymis containing sperm.

Staging – Performing exams and tests to learn the extent of the cancer within the body, especially whether the disease has spread from the original site to other parts of the body. It is important to know the stage of the disease in order to plan the best treatment.

Stress urinary incontinence – Involuntary loss of urine during periods of increased abdominal pressure, such as laughing, sneezing, coughing, or lifting.

Stricture – a narrowing of a channel, most often of the ureter or urethra.

Stenosis – see stricture (also stenotic).


Torsion – (related to the testicle) twisting or rotation of the testicle upon its long axis. If not self-corrected, surgical intervention is needed to prevent the testicle from dying.

Transient urinary incontinence – Temporary episodes of urinary incontinence that are alleviated after the cause of the episode is identified and treated, such as a bladder infection.

Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) – Common treatment for benign prostate hypertrophy, in which the inside of the prostate (urethra) is cored out to make the passage of urine easier.


Undescended testicle – a testicle that has not descended into the scrotal sac.

Ureter – thin walled tube that drains urine from the kidney to the bladder.

Urethra – channel that drains the bladder.

Ureteral Stent – small tube placed within the ureter usually to help the drainage of urine from the kidney to the bladder most often because of an obstructing stone in the ureter.

Ureterolithiasis – the formation or presence of calculi (stones) in one or both ureters.

Urethroplasty – reconstruction of urethra.

Ureterostomy – establishment of an external opening into the ureter.

Urethral diverticulum – a sac-like out pouching of the urethral wall.

Urinalysis – analysis of the urine, either chemically or microscopically, to detect infection and/or disease.

Urinary Incontinence (UI) – Involuntary loss of urine sufficient enough to be a problem.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) – Infections 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

UroGynecologist – An UroGynecologist is an obstetrician/gynecologist (Ob/Gyn) or urologist who specializes in the care of women with pelvic floor dysfunction.


Varcicocele – dilated veins that drain the testicle, resulting in poorer drainage and, possibly, infertility.

Vasectomy – an operation to cut or tie off the two tubes that carry sperm out of the testicles.

Vasovasostomy – Reconnection of the severed ends of the vas deferens, which restores the flow of sperm through the vas deferens; vasectomy reversal.

Vesicoureteral Reflux – backward flow of urine from the ureter back into the kidney.


Watchful Waiting – closely monitoring a patient’s condition but withholding treatment until symptoms appear or change. Also called observation.