All posts in General Urology

Do you have an issue with Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is defined as the involuntary loss of urine which the patient describes as being “wet”. Urinary control is maintained by an intact nervous system which directs the muscles and sphincters of the pelvis. If there is compromise of the nervous system (neurologic disease such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, etc.) or the muscles/sphincters (trauma, surgery, radiation, infection) then urinary control may be adversely affected.

In addition to the above, there are general causes of incontinence which often vary by gender particularly as men/women age. In men, there may be overflow incontinence in which the bladder is blocked often by an enlarged prostate. In women, there may be stress incontinence, caused by laxity of the pelvic muscles which occurs with age and is often accentuated as a result of childbirth.

Both men and women suffer from urgency incontinence (i.e., getting to the bathroom in time). This occurs as the bladder becomes fibrotic (less compliant) with age. As a result of this, older adults can’t postpone urinating and void more frequently that younger people. The same is true for older people whose bladder awakens them at night and often interferes with what had been ‘normal’ sleep habits.

There is treatment available for all forms of incontinence and urinary urgency and frequency. These run the gamut from behavioral therapy, timed voiding, medication and surgical procedures.

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What do you know about Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer is any of several types of cancer arising from the tissues of the urinary bladder. It is a disease in which cells grow abnormally and have the potential to spread to other parts of the body. The most common symptoms include blood in the urine and pain with urination.

[Risk factors for bladder cancer include smoking, prior radiation therapy, frequent bladder infections, and exposure to certain chemicals (paints, aniline dyes). The most common type is transitional (urothelial) cell carcinoma. Other much less common types include squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.]

Diagnosis is typically by cystoscopy with tissue biopsies. Staging (how far the tumor has spread) of the cancer is typically determined by medical imaging such as abdominal/pelvic CT scan or MRI.

Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer. The basic staging of the disease is either invasive or non-invasive. If the latter, limited endoscopic surgical removal (transurethral resection) may be all that is required. If the tumor is high grade or multifocal (multiple areas) within the bladder then some form of intravesical therapy (medication instilled directly into the bladder) may reduce the frequency and severity of any recurrence as bladder tumors have a high propensity to return. If the tumor is invasive (i.e. into the bladder wall) treatment may include some combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, Surgical options may include additional transurethral resection, partial or complete removal of the bladder, with/without urinary diversion.[1] Typical five-year survival rates in the United States are 77% for all grades/types of bladder cancer but less than 50% for those patients whose disease has penetrated (muscle invasive) into the bladder wall.

World-wide Bladder cancer, as of 2015, affects about 3.4 million people with 430,000 new cases a year. Age of onset is most often between 65 and 85 years of age. Males are more often affects than females. In 2015, bladder cancer resulted in 188,000 deaths.

In the past decade, considerable progress in patient survival has been made with the use of chemotherapy prior to bladder removal for those with invasive disease. Progress has also been made with the various forms of urinary diversion.

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Kidney Stone Blasted!

kidney stone fragments from a 1.1cm stone blasted with laser

kidney stone fragments from a 1.1cm stone blasted with laser during a ureteroscopic procedure

Kidney Stone Treatment is not the same for all

Just the other day we had a few kidney stone cases at the hospital.  These were causing all sorts of pain, infections and kidney problems in our affected patients.  It was time to get them out surgically since they would not budge on their won due to their size.  We use different treatment as appropriate per patient. This, even if the stone is in the same spot or of the same size.  One of our cases in particular, required us to blast the stone with a laser and remove it in pieces.

What happens at times with the kidney stone

You can always have an expectation on what will happen to the stone and what the next steps will be.  We blasted the kidney stone.  The stone was broken into several small pieces instead of being pulverized or breaking into just a few.   We proceeded to carefully remove each of them.  Then we make sure kidney, ureters and bladder are clear of them.  We leave some kidney stone fragments to flow out on their own, when appropriate.  However at times pieces left alone may cause problems in the future.  As in the case of our patient the other day, we removed them to prevent further problems.

We recommend that any person with a potential kidney stone to visit a doctor.  If left untreated, a kidney stone could cause more than pain.  Some patients may suffer from blocked ureters and/or urinary retention and even severe infections.  We can remove many kidney stones.  If that is not an option then we’ll use other methods, including laser blasting.

In that note we wish patients all over the best of recoveries.  Come back for your follow up visit!

T. Greene, MD

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WHAT IS ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION?

DEFINING ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is defined as the inability to have an erection satisfactory for penetration. It is a very common complaint in men and fortunately, one that can be restored in most situations.
The causes are often psychogenic (anxiety, fear of not satisfying one’s partner, depression, etc.) or physical (trauma to the external genitalia , radiation injury, pelvic surgery, etc.). Rarely, the cause may be hormonal, i.e., secondary to a low serum testosterone (male sex hormone) level. Regardless of the cause, treatment is often effective in a single office session.
Erectile dysfunction can occur transiently as a result of the above causes which can be treated by reducing the psychogenic cause or if physical, have the ED treated by medical, injectable or surgical therapy. For example, erectile dysfunction (ED) in men who are anxious or who are afraid of “under-performing” can often be discerned on history and treated by reassurance and by reducing one’s fear of failure. If this approach is not successful, a small dose of medication used to increase blood flow to the penis is often enough to convince the patient that he does not have an ailment which can’t be corrected.

Medical therapy to improve penile blood flow has been the major advance in men’s health over the past several decades. There are a host of Food and Drug Administration approved medications around which can be utilized but the dosage and timing of these medications must be coordinated by a physician so that the incidence of negative side effects is kept to a minimum.
Hormonal therapy (testosterone supplementation) can often restore potency in men who have “low” serum testosterone levels. Testosterone is not absorbed orally so there is no testosterone medication a man can take by mouth. Testosterone therapy is provided in the form of a gel, drug patches or by deep tissue (muscle) injection. For those patients that do not respond to oral medical therapy, a vacuum pump device will often be satisfactory. The pump is a bit cumbersome but many couples find it to be acceptable.

Direct injection into the penile tissue of medications used to increase penile flow is another approach particularly in men who find the oral medications ineffective and/or who do not wish to use a vacuum pump. Men have to be taught by a physician how and where to inject the medication which one does prior to each sexual encounter. The erection provide by this technique is often very firm and can last for several hours. The downside to injection therapy is that it does cause a small amount of pain (particularly following the first few injections) and may stimulate the formation of some penile scar tissue. For those patients who do not respond to any of the above treatments, implantation of a surgical prosthesis (silicone rods) is the remaining option. This is a surgical procedure which is performed under an anesthetic in a hospital or ambulatory surgical care setting. The advantages are that no medication is involved and “one is always ready”. The downside is that this is a surgical procedure and there is a slight risk of infection since the rods are foreign bodies. If this does occur, the prosthesis may have to be removed.

Most cases of ED can be treated successfully. Usually one or a few physician visits can remedy the situation to everyone’s satisfaction.

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1 in 7 Men Will Be Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin-related cancer in men in the United States. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death in men. One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. African-American men face a one-in-three chance of being diagnosed. Over 29,000 men die each year from prostate cancer, but early detection may save lives.

 

Recent reports about PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing may confuse patients about the value of prostate cancer screening. The PSA test is not perfect. However, when used correctly, this blood test gives important information. The PSA test can help diagnose, assess the risk of, and monitor prostate disease such as cancer. Men should talk to their urologist about whether to get screened or not. Talk with your urologist about the benefits and risks of testing. You should also talk about factors that can increase your risk for prostate cancer, including:

– your family history of prostate cancer (Did your

father, brother or other relative have prostate

cancer?);

– if you are African-American;

– a high BMI (a measure of your body fat)

– your age; and

– your previous health history

A number of things can change PSA levels and should be kept in mind when reading the results. High PSA levels can be caused by more than just prostate cancer. Other causes of higher PSA levels include:

– prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) and other

types of urinary tract infections (UTIs);

– benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH – enlargement of

the prostate);

– injury; or

– treatments such as prostate biopsies (tissue samples)

or cystoscopy (a test to look inside the urethra and

bladder).

 

Men choosing the PSA test should know their results could be influenced by some important factors, such as:

– Blood PSA levels tend to rise with age.

– Larger prostates make more PSA.

– Change in PSA levels over time (known as PSA

velocity) can be markers of both cancer risk and how

quickly a cancer may be growing.

A prostate biopsy (tissue sample) is the only way to know for sure if you have prostate cancer. The decision to go ahead with a prostate biopsy should be based mostly on PSA and findings on a digital rectal exam (physical exam of your prostate). Other factors to take into account include your family history of prostate cancer, your race, results of any prior biopsies and other major health issues you may have.

 

The choice to use PSA for early detection of prostate cancer is a personal choice. While PSA screening has been shown to have benefits, it also carries risks.

Possible benefits of having a PSA test:

– A normal PSA test may put your mind at ease.

– A PSA test may find prostate cancer early before it

has spread.

– Early treatment of prostate cancer may help some

men slow the spread of the disease.

– Early treatment of prostate cancer may help some

men live longer.

Possible risks of having a PSA test:

– The PSA test is not perfect. A normal PSA result

may miss some prostate cancers (a “false negative”).

– Sometimes the test results suggest something is

wrong when it isn’t (a “false positive”). This can

cause unneeded stress and worry.

– A “false positive” PSA result may lead to an

unneeded prostate biopsy (tissue sample).

– A positive PSA test may find a prostate cancer that

is slow-growing and never would have caused you

problems.

– Treatment of prostate cancer can cause side effects.

Short- or long-term problems that can occur are

issues with getting erections (“ED”), leaking urine,

or bowel function.

 

Before you decide to have a PSA test, talk with your urologist about the benefits and risks of testing. Also talk about your individual risk of prostate cancer, including your personal and family health history.

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URINARY INCONTINENCE IS AFFECTING SO MANY

Thousands of patients annually are plagued by urinary leakage, yet many feel reluctant to raise this sensitive issue with their doctor.  Many patients have been led to believe this is a “normal part of the aging process” or “an unavoidable consequence of childbirth”.  Although age and child bearing can impact the bladder, this is an area where there are a growing number of treatment options which can improve the quality of life.

It’s critical to understand there are two types of urinary leakage.  And it’s important to differentiate between the two as the treatment options depend on the type.

Stress Urinary Incontinence is the involuntary passage of small amounts of urine that occurs when one laughs, coughs/sneezes or exercises. This is often experienced after pregnancy/childbirth but can also be seen with significant weight gain and conditions associated with chronic pushing/coughing such as chronic constipation or asthma.  It may also be more noticeable after the onset of menopause.

Stress urinary incontinence is treated with physical exercises.  When this fails, there are surgical options. Surgery for stress urinary incontinence is an outpatient procedure with excellent outcomes.

Conversely, Urgency and Urge Incontinence is the involuntary passage of urine that is accompanied by the desire to urinate.  Individuals feel they are unable to “make it to the toilet in time”.  Patients often describe specific triggers, such as “putting a key in their apartment door” or “opening the bathroom stall”.   This condition is often more noticeable with age, and is often worsened by bladder irritants.  The most common bladder “triggers” are caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and artificial sweetener.

For urgency and urge incontinence, counseling and behavioral modifications are sometimes all that is required to improve bladder symptoms.  For some, bladder medications provide relief.   There are many medications from which to choose, including a newer medication with fewer side effects.   When these options fail to bring relief, patients may choose to have a Botox bladder injection which will relax the bladder and thus prevent the spasms which are responsible for the leakage.  Or, they may choose to try a sacral neuromodulator which is a tiny device that sends an electrical impulse to the bladder to prevent involuntary bladder contractions and therefore improve leakage.

In 2017 we are fortunate to have many tools in our armamentarium to offer to those suffering with urinary leakage.  Please give us a call or request an appointment online to see how we can help.

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Do you have Peyronie’s Disease?

We have recently seen some exciting responses using an innovative treatment for Peyronie’s Disease. This condition often causes pain and angulation in the erect penis. It may also inhibit full erections. Some of our patients found out they had this condition while being seen for having difficulty during sexual activity. Specially trained and certified urologists are now using the medication Xiaflex (TM), a form of botox to soften the angle and reduce the nodular plaque that often occurs in this condition.
While not everyone is a candidate, some men can benefit from this treatment. Typically 6 applications are required, although some of our patients have reported improvement after as few as 2! An evaluation is required to determine if this treatment is likely to help an individual. If you’re having difficulties with penile pain and/or erectile dysfunction, and would like to be evaluated for this exciting therapy, kindly call our office for an appointment.

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Kidney Stones: Is that what I have?

kidney stones

Kidney stones may present in various ways.  Most often, they present with intermittent radiating pain on one side and can be accompanied by waves of nausea and/or vomiting. Other, may lead to significant changes in voiding patterns, such as increased urgency and frequency of urination, intermittent flow, burning and/or blood in the urine.  Sometimes kidney stones are completely asymptomatic and may be picked up as an incidental finding when patients undergo imaging for other reasons.  Patients may have a “positive urine analysis” and be found to have microscopic blood or inflammatory markers in the urine.  Kidney stones may be diagnosed with medical imaging such as ultrasound, xray and/or CT scan of the Abdomen and Pelvis.  Once diagnosed, if a patient is asymptomatic, it is important to follow them to confirm passage of the stone, either with spontaneous passage or with some type of intervention.

Most often, stones that are found within the ureter (the tube that drains the kidney and connects to the bladder) or those that are obstructing the kidney (which means they are causing backup of urine, thereby putting pressure on the kidney) require treatment.  An “obstructing stone” prevents drainage of urine from the kidney and can lead to infection, sepsis and over an extended period of time, loss of renal function.  These could also lead to formation of ureteral strictures.  Kidney stones don’t always require immediate intervention. They may not need any treatment, other than making dietary and or medication changes to avoid an increase in stone size and number.

Management of stones depends on the location, size and number of stones.  It must be individualized to each patient and depends often depends on one’s overall medical health. For evaluation, a full dietary intake with a complete medical history and physical is required.   Though most stones are composed of calcium oxalate, the reason one forms stones will vary from patient to patient.  Issues may include poor hydration status, acidic urine, high salt intake, large meal sizes, too much animal protein (which is found in beef, chicken and fish).   Excessive intake of vitamins C, D, high dietary salt intake or calcium supplements can also contribute.  You should not make dietary or medication changes until a full evaluation has been completed. For example if you have been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis (i.e. bone loss), and have kidney stones, do not change your bone health medications without the proper medical advice.  Patients with gout or high blood levels of uric acid have a higher risk of forming stones. Interventions shown to decrease stone recurrence rates include drinking at least 2.5 liters of water per day, maintaining a normal calcium diet and adhering to a low salt diet.  Appropriate modifications can be made once a 24 hour urine collection is performed.

If  you feel you may have a kidney stone, please call our office (212-570-6800) for an appointment. We can offer same day evaluation and treatment as indicated.

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Kidney Stones: A Patient’s Perspective 3

Kidney Stones: A Patient’s Perspective 3

Kidney Stones in 2013

Thirty years later, I came down with yet another kidney stone.  Having experienced one back in ‘84 was enough for me to cringe at the possibilities.  However nowadays we have more advanced medications like alpha blockers which can help facilitate passage of small stones. We used Toradol for pain, which is non narcotic.  In the process of diagnostics, we used a CT scan, which are easier and quicker to perform and do not require IV contrast.  CT scans also provide more information to help with the treatment process. Once the stone was found treatment was decided.  We had some options.  One of which was ESWL (Extra-corporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy) which was not available back in 84.  This procedure is non invasive.

However for my stone, a urethral stone extraction was done.  Today’s instruments are more advanced and much smaller.  This helped reduce pain and trauma during the procedure. This was carried out at an out patient facility.  After the extraction was performed a stent was placed in.  This was a more tolerable experience due to the softness and flexibility of today’s Stents.  Additionally, the stent was removed in only 3 days.

 All in all, treatment for kidney stones has advanced vastly.  From medications to instrumentation we have great options to help you with this problem in an efficient and effective manner.

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Kidney Stones, a patient’s perspective pt 2

Kidney Stones, a patient’s perspective pt 2

Kidney Stones in 1986

Having experienced kidney stones twice in the past 30 years (see A Kidney Stone, a patient’s perspective) has given me some good insights, which I share with our patients at the New York offices from time to time.  There are many aspects involved with diagnosis and treatment of kidney stones. Fortunately, our diagnostic and treatment options have improved significantly. Over time the art and science in treating kidney stones has improved vastly.  I say art since not all stones are treated in the same way.

When I suffered my first kidney stone attack in 1984 diagnostic and treatment options were limited.  During that episode the pain was unforgettable.  It was like nothing I had ever experienced. At the time the mainstay of pain management consisted of narcotics which carry significant side effects.  Patients where prescribed Percocet and/or  morphine which did dull the pain caused by kidney stones but carried side effects of nausea, dizziness and constipation.  The diagnostic options at the time of my first attack consisted of plain x-ray and intravenous pyelography (IVP). IVPs are rarely done today. This type of x ray was time consuming and and required an injection of dye into the bloodstream to locate the stone.  X-rays do however deliver significant radiation exposure.

In 1984, I was unable to pass my stone (3-4mm) which was located in my left ureter (tube which transports urine from the kidney to the bladder) and caused intense and constant pain.  There was no form of medical therapy at that time. My treatment consisted of a surgical procedure called ureteroscopy and stone extraction. At that time the instruments were large and cumbersome.  During this procedure, the doctor inserts the ureteroscope through the urethra, into the bladder and then into the affected ureter.  There he uses the instrument to visualize and grasp the stone to remove it.  In some cases, the doctor has to break the stone into smaller fragments and remove them one at a time.  The smallest pieces are to pass normally during urination.  I underwent this procedure which lasted 2-3 hours and I was kept in the hospital for 3 days. The pain from the procedure was severe.  After the procedure an ureteral stent was inserted to keep the ureter open and allow urine to flow from the kidney into the bladder.  The ureteral stent was kept in place for one week.  It left me with significant sympthoms.  After it was removed, I slowly returned to my normal day to day activities.

In hindsight, the progress we have made over the last 30 years in treating kidney stones is amazing .  Im glad we at New York Urological in Manhattan have access to much advanced methods for treatment today.   I’ll be discussing my most recent experience in my next post for comparison of all aspects; from diagnosis through treatment.  We know how it feels and understand that prompt and efficient treatment are the key to a better experience.

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