What will the future of urology mean for patients?

19 July 2019, Tim Burton -

Urology has taken some large steps over the last few years, particularly with the increasing availability of robotic surgery, but the next few years holds more good news for urology patients.

Below is a look at what the next few years hold for a few key disease areas. The big picture message is that there is a drive to make patient recovery faster, to reduce the number of nights spent in hospital, to get patients back to work quicker than before, and hopefully to save the NHS money.

Kidney Stones

A recent NHS programme called GIRFT (Get it Right First Time) conducted a review of urology care in this country and one of the key conclusions was that there should be more immediate treatment for cases of emergency kidney stones, with the aim of treating patients on the day of admission, rather than scheduling treatment for a few weeks down the line.

There are also likely to be advances in minimally invasive surgery for kidney stones, notably through an operation known as micro-PCNL. This means that doctors will use smaller and smaller holes to access the kidneys, which leads to patients recovering faster than ever before.

Vaginal Mesh

There is currently an embargo on the usage of the vaginal mesh to treat a form of incontinence known as Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). This type of incontinence occurs most often in women who have experienced damage to their waterworks as a consequence of childbirth or ageing.

Because the vaginal mesh has been temporarily banned (a ban that is likely to extend until at least December) we will see other current treatments for SUI becoming more popular, as well as more work to find alternatives that will work better for patients, such as this research by a team of TUF researchers.

BPH (enlarged prostate)

This is a condition that affects around half of men over the age of 50 and 80% of men over the age of 80. In recent years we have seen the introduction of more minimally invasive treatments for BPH, a disease that can cause serious problems for men. These treatments include procedures such as UroLift, aquablation, and Rezum.

In the coming years we can expect to see these treatments become more common place, which will mean that men who have BPH will be able to receive treatment within a day and won’t have to stay overnight in hospital. It’ll also vastly reduce the risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction after BPH treatment.

Surgery for non-cancerous diseases

Over the next few years we are going to see more and more robotic surgery for operations to reconstruct the urinary tract following an obstruction of the tract. This means that patients will recovery faster and be in hospital for less time following their operations

Implant surgery, such as providing penile prostheses (a penis implant) will start to be restricted to a few major hospitals, which means these operations will be performed only by those surgeons with the highest levels of experience; if you need a urological implant, your surgeon will be of the highest quality.

We will also start to see emergency paediatric surgery taking place in a patients’ local hospital, rather than being transferred to a larger centre elsewhere.

Cancer treatment

Robotic surgery has already had a huge impact for urology patients in the UK. In the years to come we’re going to see it being used more and more for bladder cancer and kidney cancer surgery. This means patients will recover quicker and be treated sooner.

Away from surgical treatment we’re also going to see an increase in the use of personalised chemotherapy which will lead to more target-specific drugs to treat urological cancers. This is great news for patients because it means the side effects of chemotherapy will be far less severe than before. As well as this, we’ll also see more targeted immunotherapy. A lot of this will be outpatient treatments, meaning the NHS can free up more bed space.

Patients undergoing cancer treatment, whether for their bladder or their kidneys, will also go through enhanced recovery programmes, which means that they will hopefully spend less time in hospital and will get back to their normal lives as fast as possible.

All of these advancements are going to be great news for patients and the NHS. The Urology Foundation is committed to doing its part to train urologists and bring about positive change as quickly as possible.

However, we can only do that with your help. Donate today and help us to support urologists and urology departments as they work to bring these latest advances to you and your families.


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