Sunday, September 19, 2010

the urologist

i sometimes reckon i'm quite the urologist. but i'm not. even when i was rotating through urology i would often visit the general surgery tea room. i missed my real work i suppose. but the guys seemed to know i liked hanging out with the urologists and sometimes raged me a bit. i remember the one senior registrar trying to give me a hard time the one day when i visited the general surgeons.

"hi bongi. how's urology going? have you played with any good penises today?" i couldn't let that slide.

"no, but then again i haven't been home yet." he was floored.

but i realised more recently that i'm not really a urologist. it was a gunshot in the state hospital. it was the usual type of thing requiring time systematically repairing the multiple holes in the small bowel. but this case had a little bit more than just small bowel injuries. the bladder was hit too. the medical officer felt that that was beyond his scope and asked me to handle it.

gunshot injuries to the bladder aren't all that difficult, but one thing to remember is that there are always two holes in the bladder and it's the hole at the back that can be slightly more challenging. i opened the bladder by simply extending the anterior hole left by the bullet. the exit wound was clearly visible, but there was a problem. the bullet had exited the bladder exactly where the left ureter (the pipe carrying urine from the kidney to the bladder) enters the bladder. it had pretty much shot the ureter off the bladder leaving it to leak urine from its frayed end into the area behind the bladder. i honestly had a moment when i wished i could call a urologist, but that option wasn't open to me. there was no urologist doing calls in the state hospital, so i would have to sort out the problem myself.

one thing that is important when working with the ureter is to place a pipe in it to sort of stent it while it heals. the urologist have a nice pipe called a double j stent that they routinely use, but we had no such thing there that night. the other problem with a double j stent is that you need to do a cystoscopy to remove it at a later stage. although the visiting urologist could probably do that i didn't like the idea of placing something in the patient that i myself couldn't remove. i came up with a plan.

i dissected out the ureter above where it had been shot off, cleaned it up nicely and reimplanted it into the bladder over a thin tube we call a feeding tube (named after the fact that it is used to deliver food directly into a baby's stomach). this tube i then pulled out straight through the abdominal wall. when i wanted to remove it all i'd need to do would be to pull it out. the hole in the bladder would heal and all would be well. i was super impressed with my ability to think on my feet. the medical officer was also duly impressed. we closed up and i went home.

i was super keen to 'accidentally' run into my urologist friend the next day at the private hospital to tell him about my brilliant improvisation so i spent extra time on rounds wandering the corridors with the hope of seeing him. finally just by orchestrated chance i did run into him. i proudly told him about what i had done in the absence of a double j tube and how it meant i would be able to remove the tube easily in the ward later without the need of another anaesthetic. i was so impressed with myself.

"bongi, that is a well known technique which we sometimes use." my bubble was good and truly burst.

yep, i'm not a urologist. not only do i not know all their fancy techniques, but in the end i feel i must admit i have the fragile ego of a general surgeon.


rlbates said...


precordialthump said...

Ramanujan's mathematical genius was not lessened because others had solved his problems before...

Nice work!


Cal said...

It is frustrating when you invent the wheel from scratch only to find out that someone else already did that. Although it does not diminish your abilities in the least.

anne said...

So you reinvented the wheel. It doesn't mean the idea wasn't good--to the contrary. Think how long it took the urologists to come up with that concept in the first place!

Urology said...

Funny post, not a urologist :(

Btw, I run a urology site and I was trying to figure out how to contact you, but could not. So I am doing it here (sorry for the wrong place to do it). I would like to exchange blogroll mentions with your site.

Please contact me at

Thanks and sorry again for the misplaced question :)

Donald George said...

Bongi, well done on the improvising.
Enjoyed reading your story. I have always had a fascination with medicine. Possibly because I spent a lot of time in Hospitals having surgeries.

Anonymous said...


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