Urology Lingo

Anatomical Terms

Angiokeratoma of Fordyce: dark, purplish, 1-3mm dilated blood vessels that develop on the scrotum. These are most commonly seen after age 40 yrs. When they become irritated, they may bleed and be difficult to stop bleeding.

Bladder: The organ for storage of urine found in the pelvis.

Bladder neck: the junction of the bladder with the urethra.

Bladder Neck Contracture: scarring of the junction of the bladder and prostatic urethra usually after prostate surgery. The contracted scar is due to excess scarring resulting in narrowing and blockage of urination.

Calyces: Plural of calyx, more than one calyx within the kidney.

Calyx: one of 8-10 pockets off of the central urine collecting system within the kidney where stones are formed.

Cystocele: the condition where a woman’s bladder descends into the vagina, most common after childbirth, frequently resulting in stress urinary incontinence.

Epididymis: the gland on the back of the testicle where sperm mature before ejaculation.

Epididymal cyst: a small, fluid collection within the epididymis. These may or may not be painful and are usually benign.

Flank: the area on the back over the kidneys protected by the 11th and 12th ribs.

Foreskin: the skin covering the head of the penis at birth. Circumcision removes this skin.

Gerota’s fascia: the fatty tissue surrounding the kidney. This may have swelling or stranding noted in cases of blockage of the ureter by ureteral stones.

Hydrocele: a fluid collection around the testis feeling like a water balloon, which may or may not be painful.

Hypospadias: the condition where the urinary meatus is on the shaft of the penis, under the head of the penis and not at the penile tip.

Iliac vessel crossing: the junction where the ureter goes over the ileac artery, the main artery to the leg. Stones frequently hang up at this location.

Kidneys: the organs in the flank that filter blood to make urine. Kidneys also make hormones that regulate blood pressure and regulate the bone marrow’s production of red blood cells.

Meatus:  the opening at the end of a tube. The urethral meatus is the opening of the urethra at the tip of the penis in men and at the vaginal opening in women.

Orchitis: describes an infected or inflamed testicle. This may be caused by bacteria, may be viral, or may be caused by injury.

Perineal: refers to the area of the perineum. This is the area between the anus and base of the scrotum in men and the anus and vaginal opening in women.

Penis: the male sex organ.

Prostate gland: one of the male sex glands always found at the base of the bladder in men. Urine must pass through this gland on its way through the penis.

Renal pelvis: the largest portion of the renal collecting system between the calyx and the ureteropelvic junction.

Scrotum: the sack of skin containing the testicles.

Suprapubic: the area directly above the pubic bone in the lower abdomen over the bladder.

Testicle/testis: a male sex organ that produces the male hormone, testosterone.

Trigone: the triangular space in the bladder between the ureteral orifices and the bladder neck.

Ureter: the tube from the kidney to the bladder.

Ureteral orifice: the opening of the ureter into the bladder.

Urethra: the tube bringing urine from the bladder outside the body.

Urethral stricture: scaring in the penis leading to obstruction of urine flow. Strictures occur very infrequently in women.

Ureteropelvic junction (UPJ): the junction of the upper ureter where it comes off of the renal pelvis.

Ureterovesical junction (UVJ): the junction of the lower ureter with the bladder.

Vas deferens: the tubes bringing sperm from the testes to the prostate.

Varicocele: the medical term for varicose veins of the spermatic cord leading from the abdomen to the testicle. This may cause testicular pain, small testicular size, or infertility.


Bacteria: also called germs.  These are small, infecting organisms.

Bladder outlet obstruction (BOO): see BPH below.

BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia: the non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.

Bladder stone: a stone in the urinary tract formed in the bladder due to infection or obstruction and is usually chemically different from a kidney stone.

Bladder tumor: a mass in the bladder that may or may not be cancerous.

Bladder cancer or transitional cell carcinoma (TCC): the most common cell type of cancer in the bladder accounting for 90% of bladder cancers. It arises from the lining of the bladder, ureter, or kidney.

Colic/renal colic: the term used to describe pain during kidney stone passage.

Colonization of the urine: The presence of bacteria in a catheter or in the urine without signs of infection.

Cystitis: infection of the urine in the bladder.

Digital rectal examination (DRE): the intrarectal insertion of the index finger to feel of the prostate, anus, or rectum.

Dysuria: burning on urination.

Dyspareunia: painful intercourse or painful ejaculation.

Epididymitis: the inflammation or infection of the epididymis gland on the back of the testicle.

Ejaculation: the emission of semen at the time of orgasm.

Ejaculation, retrograde: discharge of the semen back into the bladder at the time of ejaculation, dry ejaculation.

Erectile dysfunction/ED: the inability to get or maintain an erection adequate for intercourse.

Erection: the change of the penis from the normal soft or flaccid state to a firm state for intercourse.

Estrogen deficiency: the lack of estrogen after menopause resulting in vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and recurrent pelvic pain or bladder infection.

Frequency: the term for urination more often than normal.

Hematuria: the finding of blood in the urine.

Hematuria, gross: the finding of visible blood in the urine. This is not an emergency unless you are unable to urinate.

Hematuria, microscopic: the finding of blood in the urine with the aid of a microscope.

Hematuria, hemoglobinuria: the finding of blood by chemical dipstick color change, but there are no red blood cells (RBCs) seen microscopically.

Hemospermia: the condition of blood in the semen. This may be red, coffee, or tea colored.

Hesitancy: the symptom describing the slow start to the urinary stream after getting to the toilet.

Hydronephrosis: the internal swelling in the kidney’s drainage system created by blockage in the ureter. This condition may lead to permanent kidney damage.

Hypogonadotropism: the medical term for low testosterone levels in men or low estrogen levels in women.

Infection: invasion of bacteria resulting in fever, redness, or burning on urination.

Incontinence: the involuntary loss of urine or bowel contents.

Kidney stone: a collection of crystalline mineral material formed in the kidney during times of dehydration.

Kidney cancer or renal cell carcinoma: a primary cancer of the kidney arising from the parenchyma or meat of the kidney.

Low T: the current lay term for low testosterone/male hormone.

Millimeter (mm): the unit of length in the metric system equal to one thousandth of a meter.  There are 25.4 mm in 1 inch.

Nocturia: the need to urinate during the nighttime interrupting normal sleep.

Paraphimosis: the medical condition where the uncircumcised foreskin gets trapped behind the head of the penis resulting in a large ring of swollen tissue behind the head of the penis. If not replaced in the proper position, this results in death of that skin.

Phimosis: the condition where the foreskin opening is too small to allow the foreskin to be retracted for cleaning, urination, or intercourse.

Polycythemia: the increase in red blood cell count or increase in hemoglobin and hematocrit above normal safe levels sometimes associated with testosterone replacement. .The high content of RBCs to plasma can result in sludging of the thicken blood.

Prostate cancer: the cancer arising within a man’s prostate gland. Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men.

Prostate gland: part of the male genital system producing fluid as part of the semen.

Prostatic secretions/expressed prostatic secretions/EPS: fluid obtained from the urethra after prostate massage. This fluid may be placed on a glass microscope slide and evaluated for WBC’s. It may also be cultured.

Prostatitis: infection of the prostate gland. The urine may or may not show signs of infection.

Prostadynia: pain in the area of the prostate or perineum not associated with infection.  It is also part of the chronic pelvic pain syndrome also called interstitial cystitis.

Proteinuria: the finding of protein in the urine. High levels may indicate kidney damage especially when associated with difficult to control hypertension. Smaller quantities may be seen in urinary infections.

Pyelonephritis: infection that has usually ascended the ureter from the bladder to infect the kidney usually associated with high fever, nausea, and vomiting.

Red blood cells (RBC): donut shaped blood cells filled with hemoglobin used to transport oxygen in the blood.

Semen: the combination of fluids from the prostate, seminal vesicles, and testes at the time of ejaculation.

Spermatoceles: epididymal cysts filled with sperm.

Sperm granulomas: a lump of sperm that occurs at the cut end of the vas deferens after vasectomy. This is the body’s attempt to wall off sperm since the body cannot kill the sperm.

Stranguria: slow, painful urination of only a few drops at the time.

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI): the loss of urine with laughing, coughing, or sneezing.

Suprapubic catheter: a catheter introduced directly into the bladder through the skin just above the pubic bone. This is usually used when the urethra is obstructed by scar tissue resulting in the inability to urinate.

Testosterone replacement: the administration of testosterone containing medications to increase blood levels of testosterone to normal levels after the testes stop normal production.

Testicular cancer: a primary tumor arising within the testis seen most commonly between the ages of birth to 35 years. A second peak occurrence is during the 6th decade of life.

Urge incontinence: the loss of urine when you are not able to stop the urinary stream once the urge to urinate begins.

Urgency: the sudden need to urinate resulting in the fear of loss of urine or actual loss of urine (urge incontinence).

Urethritis: infection of the urethra most often by organisms causing sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are the most common organisms causing urethritis.

Urinary tract infection (UTI): the term used to describe infection in any part of the urinary tract including the urethra, prostate, bladder, ureter, or kidney.

White Blood Cells (WBC): blood cells for fighting infection. When they are found in high numbers together in a discharge, they are commonly called “pus” cells.

Surgeries/Procedures/Urologic Instruments

Bedside urinary drainage bag: the bag hooked to the urethral or Foley catheter with the long tube used to hang on the bedside.

Biopsy: the removal of tissue for pathologic diagnosis.

Bladder biopsy: the surgery to remove small pieces of tissue from the bladder lining for pathologic evaluation.

Bladder scan: the ultrasonic measurement of leftover urine in the bladder. This is used as a non-invasive way to avoid measurement by urethral catheterization.

Circumcision: the removal of the foreskin or skin covering the head of the penis frequently done at birth.

Catheterization: the introduction of a rubber or plastic tube into the bladder to obtain a specimen, to introduce medication, or to drain the bladder.

Coudé catheters: catheters with an upward turn at the tip to help the catheter go up and over an enlarged prostate.

Cystoscope: a telescope used to inspect the interior of the bladder for stones, infections, polyps, and tumors.

Cystoscopy: the telescopic visual inspection of the inside of the bladder.

Epididymal cyst removal: an incisional scrotal surgery to remove a painful cyst.

Epididymectomy: the incisional scrotal surgery for removal of the epididymis gland from the back of the testicle.

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy or ESWL: a non-invasive treatment used to fragment stones into pieces small enough to pass by use of percussion waves.

French: the measurement size for urinary instruments; 3Fr =1millimeter, 15Fr=5millimeters.

Foley catheters: urethral catheters held in place in the bladder by inflation of an internal balloon. The balloon is usually the size of a walnut.

Greenlight laser: the brand name of laser used for photovaporization of the prostate to remove obstructing prostate tissue; this is used as a replacement for TURP.

Hydrocele: a fluid-filled sack of tissue surrounding the testicle inside the scrotum often formed after infection or injury to the testicle.

Hydrocelectomy: the incisional scrotal surgical procedure to remove a hydrocele.

Laser lithotripsy: fragmentation of a stone using a Holmium laser fiber in direct contact with the stone that breaks the stone into pieces; this is usually done at the time of ureteroscopy.

Leg bag: a urinary drainage bag for a Foley catheter that has elastic straps to hold it on the thigh so that pants may be worn with the catheter.

Nephroscope: a telescope used to inspect the inside of the kidney. This may be a flexible or rigid telescope.

Orchiectomy: the removal of a testicle usually for cancer of the testis or treatment of prostate cancer.

Percutaneous stone surgery: the removal of a stone through a small skin puncture. The puncture is normally about 3/8-1/2 inches in diameter.

Prostate needle biopsy: the procedure to take tissue samples from the prostate gland to evaluate for the presence of prostate cancer.

Prostate ultrasound: a transrectal ultrasound procedure done by introducing an ultrasound probe, about the size of the index finger, into the rectum. Ultrasound is then used to measure the size of the prostate and to guide the needle for prostate biopsy.

Self-catheterization: introduction of a catheter, done by the patient in the home setting, to drain the bladder. This is usually done several times a day. This is only used when someone is unable to urinate.

Self-injection: the act of the male patient injecting his own medication at home used with testosterone shots and with injection of erectile dysfunction medications.

Sounds/Van Buren sounds: metal instruments for dilating (stretching) urethral strictures. These increase in size by 2/3 millimeter per sound.

Stent: a ureteral tube or catheter placed to unblock a kidney. This stent may or may not have an extraction suture attached to the stent for removing the stent.

Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP): the removal of the inner portion of the prostate through the penile urethra. This procedure is used for benign prostatic obstruction but not for cancer of the prostate.

Ureteroscopy: the introduction of a long, thin telescope up the ureter to visually inspect the ureter for stones, tumor, etc.

Urethral dilatation: the stretching of a scar in the urethra with metal sounds or with balloons.

Urethral strictures: scars within in the urethra obstructing urination and lead to urinary retention.

Urinary retention: the inability to urinate or the inability to completely empty the bladder.

Vasectomy: the male sterilization procedure to stop the introduction of sperm into the semen.

Vasectomy, no scalpel: a vasectomy done using a special instrument to puncture the skin rather than to cut the skin to gain access to the vas deferens. The first step in the procedure is to grasp the vas then to puncture the skin.

Vasectomy, percutaneous: the same as a no scalpel vasectomy with the only change being that the skin is punctured then the vas deferens is grasped. The remainder of the two procedures is essentially the same.

Vasectomy, incisional: the traditional vasectomy where two cuts or incisions, one in each groin, are used for the procedure. These cuts are up to ¾ inches long each.

Visual internal urethrotomy or VIU: the surgery to incise (cut open) the scar within the penile urethra to improve flow of urine or to relieve urinary retention.

Tests of Urine & Blood

BUN or blood urea nitrogen: a blood test to evaluate for kidney function or dehydration.

CBC: a complete blood count.

Creatinine: a blood test to evaluate kidney function. It may be increased in kidney stone disease when the stone is blocking the kidney.

Cytology of the urine: the use of a Pap smear stain to look for cancer cells in the urine.

Hemoglobin and hematocrit: measures of red blood cell counts.

Liver panel: a set of blood tests to evaluate the liver for normal versus abnormal function.

Metabolic panel, basic: a blood test for serum electrolytes like sodium and potassium. This contains 7-8 blood tests.

Metabolic panel, complete: a blood test to evaluate electrolytes, fluid balance, kidney, and liver function. This contains 15-20 blood tests.

NMP 22: nuclear matrix protein #22 urine test used as a bladder cancer tumor marker.

Prolactin: a hormone produced in the pituitary gland. Increased levels of prolactin are found in some erectile dysfunction (ED) patients.

Prostatic secretion culture: a test to identify the infecting bacterial type and its sensitivity to antibiotics.

PSA or prostatic specific antigen: a blood test to evaluate for prostatic diseases including prostate cancer, prostatitis, and benign enlargement or BPH.

PSA/free PSA: total prostatic specific antigen (PSA) and the non-protein bound or free PSA. This is used to stratify the risk of prostate cancer. High free PSAs have lower risk of prostate cancer.

Testosterone: the male sex hormone produced in the testicles. It is responsible for libido or sex drive in men.

Testosterone/ free testosterone: total testosterone measurement and the free floating non-protein bound active form of testosterone.

Testosterone (Peak): the highest blood level of testosterone achieved for a given dose.

Testosterone (Trough): the lowest testosterone level in the treatment cycle for a given dose.

Urinalysis: the inspection of the urine for blood, infection, glucose, and protein.

Urinalysis, microscopic: the evaluation of the urine sediment under magnification to look for blood, bacteria, infection, or crystals.

Urinalysis, dipstick: the chemical testing of the urine for blood, infection, glucose, protein, and bacteria.

Urine culture: a test to identify the infecting bacteria and its sensitivity to antibiotics.

Wound culture: a test of the fluids or drainage from any site of infection to identify the infecting bacteria and its sensitivity to antibiotics.

X-Ray Terms

Bone Scan: a nuclear medicine scan used to evaluate bones for fractures and signs of spread of cancers or bone infections.

Contrast: the radiological term for the intravenous iodine containing or oral barium containing materials used to differentiate one intra-abdominal tissue from another.

CT or CAT scan: a computerized axial tomography x-ray used to evaluate the internal organs.

CT Urogram: a computerized axial tomography (CT scan) generated intravenous pyelogram (IVP) x-ray of the urinary tract.

CT stone protocol: a non-contrast, meaning no intravenous x-ray contrast is given, computerized axial tomography (CT) of the abdomen and pelvis used to look for kidney stones or ureteral stones. The stone may be seen directly or the effect of the stone on the kidney may be observed. Stone effects are swelling, hydronephrosis, or stranding in the fat.

CT with IV contrast: the x-ray used to evaluate the kidney anatomy and to look for renal and bladder tumors; it is also indicated in the evaluation of infections and blood in the urine.

CT with IV and Oral contrast: x-rays using intravenous injection of contrast and orally ingested contrast or barium. This looks at all intra-abdominal organs including lymph nodes, solid organs, and large and small bowel.

IVP or intravenous pyelogram: a series of regular x-ray films done after administration of x-ray contrast to evaluate the kidneys.

KUB or kidney-ureter-bladder: a plain x-ray used to look for kidney stones and proper ureteral stent position.

MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging: this test uses the cells magnetic properties of the atoms’ nuclei to form images and does not utilize x-rays.

Prostate ultrasound: a transrectal ultrasound probe used to measure the size of the prostate and to guide prostate biopsies or evaluate the seminal vesicles in infertility.

Retrograde Pyelogram: an x-ray obtained by injecting x-ray contrast directly into the ureter flowing backwards from the bladder to the kidney.

Retrograde urethrogram: an x-ray obtained while injecting x-ray contrast at the tip of the penis flowing back into the bladder.

Renal scan with Lasix: a nuclear medicine scan to evaluate the kidneys for blockage and degree of function in each kidney.

Ultrasound, renal: a test that looks at the kidneys using sound waves and not x-rays.

Ultrasound, scrotal: a test that looks at the testis and epididymis using sound waves and not x-rays.