Definition and Overview
A urology follow-up is a scheduled appointment with a urologist following an initial consultation, check-up, or treatment. It is required for patients who have been diagnosed or are undergoing treatment for conditions affecting the genitourinary tract, which include the kidneys, bladder, urethra, and the male genitalia. The purpose of a urology follow-up could be to confirm a diagnosis and begin treatment, check if the condition is progressing, or ensure that the treatment worked as expected.
The appointment is held at the urologist’s office or clinic, and may involve a physical examination to assess the patient’s condition and compare it to his condition during the first visit. A urology follow-up is important in avoiding health risks caused by undiagnosed or untreated urologic conditions.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
A urology follow-up is crucial for patients who are suspected or diagnosed with the following conditions:
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Kidney stones
- Prostate cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Bladder prolapse
- Erectile dysfunction
- Overactive bladder
- Acute urinary retention
- Acute interstitial nephritis
Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome
Goals of a urology follow up
To begin treatment following an initial consultation where the urologic condition was diagnosed
- To perform more tests to confirm the initial diagnosis
To check the patient’s condition following a specific treatment and to check for signs of complications
There should be a confirmed diagnosis
- There should be a prescribed treatment plan
- For post-treatment follow-up visits, there should be an assurance that the treatment yielded the expected results and that the patient is recovering properly with no complications.
How Does the Procedure Work?
A follow-up visit is usually performed at a urologist’s clinic or a hospital, especially if some lab tests are scheduled. The entire visit, which usually takes about 30-60 minutes, typically follows the steps listed below:
- A general assessment of the patient’s condition, the results of which are compared to the patient’s status during the previous appointment
- A physical examination, including a complete genital exam, pelvic exam, or a digital rectal exam
Lab tests and imaging studies
The tests that are usually conducted during a follow-up visit include:
- Complete blood count
- Blood chemistry tests to assess kidney function
- Testosterone level test
- PSA evaluation
- Imaging studies, such as CT scan or MRI scan
- Cystoscopy – this is a test that examines the inside of the bladder and urethra by inserting an endoscopic instrument
- Urodynamics – This is a test that assesses bladder function and may be necessary for people suffering from incontinence
- Biopsy of the bladder or prostate – this is when a tissue sample is taken from the bladder or prostate for laboratory analysis; this is most commonly required when abnormal growths are found or when cancer is suspected.
Possible Risks and Complications
A urology follow-up is an important part of the process that patients need to go through to seek treatment for their urologic conditions. It is generally a safe, routine visit, and can, in fact, help prevent or address complications, especially post-treatment. However, since some lab tests may also be required, the patient still faces a small risk of complications. Tests such as urodynamic testing and PSA tests can cause complications such as:
- Radiation exposure (during imaging studies) – pregnant women are generally advised to avoid urologic tests that use radiation.
- Misleading or inaccurate results - there are some factors that may cause inaccuracies or distortions in the test results. These include medications and the patient’s involuntary movements during a test.
Endoscopic tests and biopsies also carry their own risk, such as:
- Allergic reactions
- American Urological Association