Out of all the fields in medicine, Urology has been one of the greatest beneficiaries of new technologies. This began over a hundred years ago when the first urologic instruments were developed to access the bladder. Instead of making an incision, urologists developed a long hollow tube, called a cystoscope, to look into the bladder. This provided the basis for future minimally invasive surgery, such as laparoscopy.
Today, kidney stones can be treated by vibrating them apart with sound waves (ESWL), or breaking them with a micro laser. Fiber-optic technology has allowed us to view the bladder or even the kidneys through small, flexible scopes.
Major surgery can now be performed in a minimally invasive manner. Small scopes and instruments are passed through keyhole incisions in the abdomen. Using this technique, called laparoscopy, tumors involving the kidney or prostate are removed. A huge advance in this field has been the da Vinci Robotic system, which allows for fine control of the small instruments.
Prostate cancer was traditionally treated with radiation or surgery. Freezing the prostate is a minimally invasive treatment modality. While freezing is nothing new, the technology to selectively freeze the prostate and protect the surrounding body is very high tech. Urology Associates has the largest experience in the upper Midwest with freezing prostate cancer, termed cryotherapy.
New technologies have even replaced some hospital based surgeries. An enlarged prostate can be treated with microwave energy in the office, avoiding the expense of a hospitalization. If an enlarged prostate requires treatment in the hospital, new lasers, such as the Greenlight KTP laser, significantly shorten the hospital stay.
Some technologies are completely innovative and expand the scope of Urology. This is true of the bladder pacemaker. This represents a transfer of technology from electronic control of the heart’s rhythm to better control over the bladder. This has led to the emergence of neuromodulation as a distinct field of urology.
While many technological advances have been made in our field, many more are sure to come and Urology Associates is positioned to accept and improve new techniques as they arise.