Challenges in pediatric urologic practice: a lifelong view
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The role of the pediatric urologic surgeon does not end with initial reconstructive surgery. Many of the congenital anomalies encountered require multiple staged operations while others may not involve further surgery but require a life-long follow-up and often revisions. Management of most of these disorders must extend into and through adolescence before transitioning these patients to adult colleagues. The primary goal of management of all congenital uropathies is protection and/or reversal of renal insult. For posterior urethral valves, in particular, avoidance of end-stage renal failure may not be possible in severe cases due to the congenital nephropathy but usually can be prolonged. Likewise, prevention or minimization of urinary tract infections is important for overall health and eventual renal function. Attainment of urinary continence is an important goal for most with a proven positive impact on quality of life; however, measures to achieve that goal can require significant efforts for those with neuropathic bladder dysfunction, obstructive uropathies, and bladder exstrophy. A particular challenge is maximizing future self-esteem, sexual function, and reproductive potential for those with genital anomalies such as hypospadias, the bladder exstrophy epispadias complex, prune belly syndrome, and Mullerian anomalies. Few endeavors are rewarding as working with children and their families throughout childhood and adolescence to help them attain these goals, and modern advances have enhanced our ability to get them to adulthood in better physical and mental health than ever before.
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