Clinical Surgeries

The Importance of Water for Healthy Kidney Function

Some years ago, Kidney Health Australia (KHA) put out a position statement on water. The statement, called ‘Drink Water Instead’, highlighted the importance of water in maintaining kidney health. This is because without adequate water, our kidneys suffer and cannot properly function.

What is the function of the kidneys?

The kidneys perform a role that is rather like a very efficient waste disposal unit. Without kidney function, we would die within a matter of days – which is clearly why we have two of them! Even if one fails, the other one can continue the job as long as it is healthy.

The main role of the kidneys is to filter out and collect waste materials – such as unwanted chemicals, excess fluid and unneeded nutrients – and combine them with water to create urine for elimination via the bladder. This filtering process can happen hundreds of times a day and yet most of us probably never give it a second thought – that is until we develop an uncomfortable problem such as a kidney stone, or a urinary tract infection!

The kidneys also have a number of other roles, including balancing the volume of minerals and fluids in the body, and producing hormones and enzymes that make red blood cells and are involved in the control of blood pressure and maintenance of bone health.

Looking after our kidneys

We tend to hear a lot about looking after our heart health and taking care of our skin and bones, but not much about the kidneys – even though our lives depend upon them!

Keeping well hydrated is essential, especially as between two and three litres of water is lost every day through elimination and also through the skin and lungs. Water is considered preferable to sugar-based drinks, as the latter may affect dental health and are also associated with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) when taken to excess.

How much water should we drink?

As long as we are generally healthy, there are no set rules about how much water we should drink. It depends upon a number of factors such as environment and lifestyle. For instance, if someone lives in a tropical region, or does strenuous work or exercise, their fluid needs are going to be higher than those of someone living in a more temperate zone with a sedentary occupation.

At one time it was stated that all adults should drink at least two litres of water per day. However, the KHA position is that we should drink according to thirst, and that caffeinated and sugared drinks should be limited. There are some exceptions to this – for instance if someone has had a kidney stone, it is recommended that they drink at least two litres per day to reduce the risk of another one.

People with certain health conditions – including end-stage renal failure – may need to reduce their fluid intake in accordance with their doctor’s advice.

As well as getting adequate water each day, maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise and quitting smoking if necessary can also help keep the kidneys in good health. Alcohol should be limited as it has a dehydrating effect on the body, and reducing salt may help to lower the risk of kidney stones.

If you suffer from kidney stones you should see your doctor or a kidney stone specialist to discuss treatments such as kidney stone removal and measures to reduce your risk level.

Read More »The Importance of Water for Healthy Kidney Function

2 Simple Things That May Reduce Your Risk of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer occurring in Australian men. According to Cancer Australia, prostate cancer accounted for 30% of newly diagnosed cancers among men in 2010.

While prostate cancer treatment is available, and many men live with the disease for a long period of time without suffering any adverse effects, there are ways that you can potentially lower your risk of getting prostate cancer.

The latest study

According to a New York University study published in the journal Cancer Causes & Control in January, there are two simple things that may potentially decrease not only your risk of prostate cancer, but of a number of other obesity-related cancers as well.

The study involved almost 3,000 people in America, and analysed medical and diet data from these people over a long period of time, between 1991 and 2008.

The study found that eating more fruit, vegetables and legumes, and lowering alcohol consumption, are associated with reducing the risk of many cancers.

Niyati Parekh, the senior author of the study and associate professor of nutrition and public health at New York University Steinhardt, said: “Based on the study’s results, dietary advice on preventing cancer should emphasise the importance of eating a plant-based diet and restricting alcohol consumption.”

Eat your vegies

The benefits of eating more vegetables are often touted widely. The study in Cancer Causes & Control is just one among many that have found eating more vegetables can contribute to overall health, and therefore potentially lower the risk of obesity-related cancers.

So how many vegetables do you need to consume? According to Australian Government dietary guidelines, men are recommended to eat between five to six serves of vegetables per day, depending on their age. Those over 70 may require slightly less than those under the age of 50. A standard serve of vegetables is about 75 grams.

Decrease alcohol intake

While you’re increasing your vegetable intake, try reducing how much alcohol you drink as well. The study recommended that men restrict their alcohol consumption to two drinks per day.

While there is a range of prostate cancer treatments available, from surgery to radiation and hormone therapy depending on the severity of the cancer, it makes sense to reduce your risk of cancer as much as possible. Making some dietary changes may not only lower your risk of cancer, they can also have numerous other positive effects on your general health.

Read More »2 Simple Things That May Reduce Your Risk of Prostate Cancer

Demystifying the Male Vasectomy

A Male vasectomy is a procedure to prevent a man from reproducing. In other words, it is a form of permanent male contraception – although a reversal operation is a possibility in some cases.

What does it involve?

In normal male reproduction, sperm cells (which are made and stored in the testes) are combined with semen (the fluid produced from the seminal vesicles and the prostate) and carried through the urethra in the penis.

A male vasectomy is a simple procedure that prevents sperm from travelling from the testes to the penis by cutting and blocking the vas deferens – the tubes involved in this action. The remaining sperm in the testes is then absorbed into the body over time.

What changes can be noticed?

After a vasectomy procedure you should not notice any changes, as it does not affect libido, the capacity to produce semen or male hormones, or the ability to have a normal sex life and to achieve orgasm and ejaculation. The only difference that occurs is that the semen does not contain reproductive sperm cells, which should not be noticeable.

Vasectomy methods

Conventional vasectomy method:

In this case small incisions are made in the scrotum, the vas deferens are identified, and are then snipped and tied. The incisions are then closed with stitches.

No scalpel vasectomy method:

This method is far less invasive, involving locating the vas deferens through the skin and making a tiny pointed incision. The vas are then cut and sealed, and there is no need for stitches. It can be done in as little as 5-10 minutes.

Both methods can be done with a local anaesthetic, although in some cases a general anaesthetic will be used.

What are the risks?

As for all surgery there are some risks involved, but the risk level is very low with the conventional method and even lower with a no-scalpel vasectomy. Possible complications include infection or bleeding, and in some cases prolonged groin-pain may be experienced, although this is very rare.

How successful is it?

As a method of contraception, a vasectomy procedure is very successful, although in rare cases sperm may still manage to travel across where the tubes have been cut. No vasectomy can be guaranteed 100% as a contraceptive. The chances of pregnancy following the procedure are around 1 in 1,000.

It’s also important to continue to use other forms of contraception after the operation. This is because there may still be some sperm cells in the upper part of the tubes and it can take several months for them to flush out. Contraception can only be discontinued once a test shows that the semen has a zero sperm count.

Sperm may continue to be made in the testes after vasectomy, but after a length of time production may be reduced or may cease. Once the production of sperm has ended, a reversal procedure will not be feasible.
You can find out more about vasectomy procedures by contacting a professional urologist in Sydney.

Read More »Demystifying the Male Vasectomy

Nanochip Sensing Technology and Healthcare of the Future

Nanotechnology may revolutionise the way we undertake healthcare in the 21st century. Within just a few years, it may be possible for us to monitor our own health from home using just a mobile phone and what is known as sensing technology. This ‘lab-on-a-chip’ technology also looks promising when it comes to global health – particularly with regard to providing precision tools for diagnosing diseases, providing illusive possibilities in the future of healthcare technology.

Sensing possibilities in the future of healthcare technology

This new nano-chip technology offers a variety of possibilities, including:

Read More »Nanochip Sensing Technology and Healthcare of the Future

What is a PSA Test and Should All Men Have One?

PSA stands for prostate specific antigen – a protein produced by the male prostate gland which plays a role in nourishing the sperm. A PSA test is a blood test to determine if PSA levels in the blood are elevated – which may indicate prostate cancer or alternately another problem with the prostate gland.

Prostate diseases

While prostate cancer may be the disease of the prostate that we tend to hear the most about, other non-cancerous prostate problems can also occur. These include:
•    Prostatitis – acute or chronic bacterial infection of the prostate.
•    Chronic non-bacterial prostatitis.
•    Sterile pyuria – elevated white cells in the urine.
•    Non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate.

So as you can see, prostate cancer is not the only concern. However, when having a PSA test done, the aim is usually to detect if cancer might be present.

How common is prostate cancer?

This cancer is rare in the under-50s, even though it is the commonest type of cancer in Australian men apart from certain skin cancers. According to the federal government, approximately 20,000 men are diagnosed with the disease each year in Australia, and this is expected to rise over time. The most common risk factors are advancing age and genetic predisposition. Around 60% of men with the disease are older than 65.

What can a PSA test show?

Normally, only small amounts of PSA enter the bloodstream. Where the PSA reading is higher than 4ng/ml, a follow-up might be recommended.

A PSA test is not enough on its own to determine if prostate cancer is present – often a digital rectal examination (DRE) is performed as well for confirmation. Other tests may include a biopsy, MRI, and / or a CT scan.

For older men – those over 70 – testing and treatment is not always recommended, especially if it is considered they are likely to die of other causes within a few years. Prostate cancer treatments can have a number of side effects – including damaged nerves and muscles, urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction and reduced libido. For an older man who is asymptomatic, it may not be worth the risk involved.

What treatments are available?

The type of treatment recommended will depend on the age and health of the patient and how advanced the cancer is. Treatments include surveillance, radiotherapy, surgery, androgen-deprivation therapy, chemotherapy, brachytherapy, and high-intensity focused ultrasound. With some patients, surveillance or watchful waiting may well be the main course of action recommended – especially for older men or where the cancer is low-grade and do not appear to be advancing.

Should all men have a regular PSA test?

As indicated earlier, PSA levels can become elevated for any number of reasons. In addition, testing can sometimes result in false positives, which can lead to undue anxiety and even unnecessary treatments or procedures that do not necessarily improve the patient’s quality of life.

The current guidelines for men without symptoms recommend testing every two years for men aged 50-69, and only for those that genuinely want the test and who understand all the risks and benefits involved. PSA testing is not recommended for men who are likely to die from any cause within seven years.

So in a nutshell, broad-based PSA for men is not recommended. However men with symptoms such as an increased need to urinate especially during the night, difficulty urinating, or a feeling of the bladder not being completely emptied after going to the toilet, should speak to their medical practitioner about their symptoms and about the options that are available to them.

Read More »What is a PSA Test and Should All Men Have One?

Effective Non-Surgical Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction

The best and most effective long-term treatment for erectile dysfunction is to find the underlying cause of the problem, and treat that. This applies whether the cause is physical, psychological, emotional, or all of the above.

In the majority of cases, the cause is physical and frequently relates to conditions that affect the blood vessels and blood flow, such as diabetes or heart disease. Many sufferers of erectile dysfunction may benefit from lifestyle changes including weight loss, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and improving overall health through diet, exercise and reduction of stress.

In some cases of erectile dysfunction, the condition is temporary and may resolve itself over time. For instance, temporary illness, anxiety or tiredness can cause short-term erectile dysfunction that goes away when the cause is treated through medication, therapy or rest.

Surgical or non-surgical treatments?

In more serious cases of erectile dysfunction, following prostate cancer treatments for example, surgery involving penile implants may provide an effective and successful long-term solution. Surgery is not for everyone however – some sufferers do not need surgery, and some prefer to choose non-surgical treatments.

Effective non-surgical treatments

Fortunately, there are some very effective non-surgical treatments available. These include:


Medications such as Viagra, Levitra or Cialis are known as PDE-5 inhibitors, and work by increasing blood flow to the penile tissue in order to create an erection. It’s important to note that these drugs are not a hormonal treatment, nor are they designed to increase libido.

Some drug treatments need to be taken just prior to intercourse, while others should be taken on a daily basis. They are generally safe, but should not be used without medical supervision, especially by men who are taking nitrate drug treatments for heart disease.

Injection therapy

Penile injections open the blood vessels and increase blood flow to the penis, creating an erection within minutes which lasts for up to 30 minutes. Side effects may include penile scarring, or prolonged erections – especially if the dose is too high. Injection therapy must be done under medical supervision, and when proper care is taken this treatment can be very effective.

Vacuum constriction device

This device – also sometimes called a vacuum pump – can be used to produce an erection within a few minutes. The erection can last for up to 30 minutes.

The device is made up of a cylinder and pump, either hand or battery-operated, with the vacuum effect being created through pumping air out of the cylinder.

As for the other treatments mentioned, vacuum pumps are designed to increase blood flow to the penis. It can be a very effective treatment for men who have a physical erectile dysfunction problem, and who do not wish to take the surgical option. It is also relatively inexpensive.

Some men report a cold feeling and a loss of sensation in the penis, or a loss of spontaneity. Some bruising may also occur, although it is usually not painful.

Linear shockwave therapy

This is a new treatment that uses low-intensity shockwaves to reverse vascular dysfunction in the penis. It involves having four or five treatments over several weeks in a day clinic. Treatment is usually pain-free.

This treatment may suit men who cannot take PDE-5 drugs or those who have undergone prostate cancer treatment.

Psychological treatments

Psychotherapy and counselling may be helpful on their own where the cause of erectile dysfunction is psychological. They may also be used in conjunction with physical treatments, particularly for men who are struggling with anxiety and loss of self-confidence as a result of erectile function problems.

Contact us if you would like information on erectile dysfunction treatment in Sydney.

Read More »Effective Non-Surgical Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction: The Causes and Solutions

Erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to attain an erection or to sustain one long enough for sexual intercourse. As you might imagine, this can seriously affect a sufferer’s self-esteem and interfere with his intimate relationships.

Occasional erectile dysfunction is not something to worry about. If a man is tired from working long hours, has just had a bout of the flu, or been to hospital for surgery, for instance, he may experience some temporary dysfunction while his body recovers. It could also happen when he’s just had too much of a good time and a few too many beers!

Isn’t it really just psychological?

It’s often thought that erectile dysfunction is mostly a psychological condition, perhaps caused by factors such as anxiety, overwork, or emotional distress. While these can certainly be contributing factors in some cases, as a rule, the more serious cases of erectile dysfunction have a physical cause.

Causes include:   

Read More »Erectile Dysfunction: The Causes and Solutions

Rehabilitation After Prostate Cancer Treatment


Prostate cancer treatment may lead to urinary continence and / or erectile function problems in some patients. Good post-operative care and rehabilitation can help patients to manage these conditions, and greatly improve their quality of life.

Prostate cancer treatments

Prostate treatment is likely to differ from one patient to the next, depending on the severity of the cancer as well as symptoms and the age of the patient. Treatments include active surveillance and regular testing (for lower-grade cancers and possibly for men of more advanced age), brachytherapy (radioactive pellet implantation), radiotherapy, and surgery.

Prostate surgery

Prostate cancer surgery – known as radical prostatectomy – is performed to remove any cancer in the prostate and the surrounding tissues, and involves complete removal of the prostate, the seminal vesicles, and the associated lymph nodes.

Fortunately, modern surgical techniques involve what is known as nerve sparing – which basically refers to preserving the nerves involved in erectile function. Nerve sparing helps to reduce the risk of erectile problems after surgery, and may also help to make erectile dysfunction treatments more effective.

Post-operative rehabilitation options

For men who undergo surgery and who do experience urinary incontinence and / or erectile function problems there are various treatment options available.

Urinary incontinence post prostatectomy

This may occur as a result of a weakness in the urinary sphincter valve which forms part of the pelvic floor group of muscles. It can be treated by:

Read More »Rehabilitation After Prostate Cancer Treatment