What is a urologist?
A urologist is a specialist surgeon who treats men, women and children with problems of the kidneys, bladder, prostate and male reproductive organs. These conditions include cancer, stones, infection, incontinence, sexual dysfunction and pelvic floor problems.
What training do urologists have?
Urologists complete at least 5 years of specialist training after they become doctors.
In Australia, most urologists are Fellows of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, with the letters FRACS after their name.
What conditions do urologists treat?
Urologists specialise in treating a range of urinary tract problems in men, women and children, including:
- bladder and kidney infections
- blood in the urine
- kidney stones and bladder stones
- cancer of the kidney, bladder and adrenal glands
- problems with urination, including an overactive bladder
- pelvic floor problems
They can also treat problems specific to men, including:
- enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy)
- inflamed or infected prostate (prostatitis)
- prostate cancer
- testicular cancer
- varicocele and cysts
- erectile dysfunction and infertility
Some urologists are sub-specialists in particular areas. For example, a paediatric urologist specialises in urinary and reproductive system disorders in children and teenagers.
Other sub-specialities include:
- robotic surgery, where the urologist uses three-dimensional images and computer-controlled surgical instruments
- laparoscopic surgery, which uses small incisions and special surgical tools, including miniature video cameras
Where do urologists work?
Urologists see their patients in a clinic or a surgery. Many operate both in public and private hospitals.
How do I find a urologist?
Ask your doctor, close friends or family to recommend a good urologist. You can find a urologist near you by searching the healthdirect service finder.
How much will a urologist cost?
The cost can vary a lot, depending on the type of care you receive, whether it’s in hospital, whether you have private health insurance and on what the urologist charges.
Out of hospital care
If you see a urologist in their rooms, then Medicare will cover:
- all of the costs if they bulk bill
- some of the costs if they don’t bulk bill
You can’t use private health insurance for out of hospital care.
Treatment in a public hospital using Medicare
If you are treated in a public hospital or clinic and use Medicare, it is free. Medicare covers all costs.
Treatment in any hospital using private health insurance
If you use private health insurance to be treated in either in a public hospital or a private hospital or clinic, you will be charged by the urologist and by the hospital. You might also be charged for pathology tests, x-rays and other forms of imaging, and by other doctors you see, such as an anaesthetist. Your private health insurance will cover some of these costs.
Asking about costs
It can be expensive to see specialists. Before you go for the first time, ask the urologist or their staff about the costs. You can also ask what Medicare will cover.
If you plan to use private health insurance, you can also contact your health fund.
If the costs are too high, you can:
- ask the urologist or their staff about a reduction
- consider another specialist, such as a gynaecologist, or a health service
- talk to your GP about alternative treatment options
It is important to get a referral from your GP to see a urologist. That way, your doctor can pass on useful information, and the urologist can later tell your doctor about your visit. Also, if you don’t have a referral, neither Medicare nor private health insurance will contribute to the cost of your care.
For more information
- The Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand website features information about urologists and some of the conditions they treat.
- Kidney Health Australia provides information about kidney disease, kidney cancer, kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
- The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia site includes information about prostate cancer.
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Last reviewed: September 2020