Health & Fitness

A Center of Excellence in Urological Care

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Not just for men, Rockford Urological Associates has spent a quarter of a century providing top-notch care for urological issues and cancers with advanced treatments unique to the region.

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For more than 25 years, Rockford Urological Associates has provided the highest quality medical services to patients of every age and all genders in the greater Rockford area.

In its clinic at 351 Executive Parkway, in Rockford, eight urologists offer patients the level of care and treatment usually found only in university-based medical centers.

Dr. Michael Fumo, a board-certified urologist specializing in prostate disorders, has been with Rockford Urological for eight years. The clinic was founded by two urologists and since that time has grown steadily to meet the needs of the Rockford area, he explains.

“In the past three years, we’ve added three more specialists to our staff,” says Fumo. “We see an average of 1,400 patients weekly. More than 50 percent of them are adult men.”

Fumo’s patients range in age from newborn to elderly and mostly suffer from urinary tract infections and other relatively minor disorders. But the doctors at Rockford Urological are prepared to offer the best care possible to those with more serious conditions.

“We offer university-level technology and treatments, the kind people expect from university-linked medical centers,” Fumo says. “And we provide this high level of care here in the greater Rockford area, close to home.”

Many of Fumo’s patients are in the 60- to 65-year-old age bracket and have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“In addition to the standard prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, we also do a PCA-3 urine-based test plus a prostate health index (PHI) blood test to determine men’s risk of prostate cancer, before we perform biopsies,” Fumo explains. “In the past, men were over-treated at all stages, but now we have a better understanding of the disease and how best to address it.”

While some patients opt to monitor, but not treat their cancers, others choose more aggressive measures.

“They have lots of options,” Fumo says. “Minimally invasive robotic surgery is one of them. It’s the least painful way to remove the prostate, with the quickest recovery time.”

There are no halfway treatments for prostate cancer, he adds. The entire prostate is removed and some patients may need radiation treatments if the cancer has spread through the pelvic area and beyond.

“These patients can also be treated with hormone therapy,” Fumo says. “Today, we have multiple new therapeutic treatments to combat cancers that have spread into the bones. Two different types of hormone therapy, as well as changes in chemotherapy, have been introduced in the past year alone, and advances in prostate cancer treatment are rapidly being approved.”

There are advances in other aspects of men’s urological health, too.

Dr. Dean Leocadio, MD MA, is a board-eligible urologist who specializes in men’s health and male pelvic reconstruction, as well as robotic surgery. Sexual dysfunction disorders, low testosterone, erectile dysfunction (ED), Peyronie’s disease, prosthetic surgery for male incontinence, and urethral stricture disease are some of the conditions Leocadio treats at Rockford Urological.

Many patients come to him with concerns about ED, which, contrary to popular belief, is not a normal consequence of aging. ED is often caused by medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, or vascular and neurologic conditions, and can be a complication of pelvic surgery such as that done for prostate cancer.

“You’ve seen all those lovely ads on television about oral medications to treat ED, but when those medicines fail, we’re able to offer patients many other successful treatments including teaching them how to use injection or vacuum therapy,” Leocadio says.

He specializes in prosthetic surgery that includes a surgical cure for ED – the placement of a functional penile implant, the only treatment that allows a man with ED to respond spontaneously to his partner.

“ED can be a difficult topic for men to discuss with their doctors, peers and especially with their partners,” says Leocadio. To help overcome this, and to help educate patients and their partners, Leocadio lectures on the topic, gives free monthly community seminars, and holds shared medical appointments (SMA) at Rockford Urological. An SMA consists of a completely confidential group visit in which several couples are presented with an interactive educational presentation, a group session in which each patient shares his history, individualized examinations, and then a wrap-up that includes a personalized treatment plan. Leocadio is the first in Illinois to do SMAs, and says they’ve been very successful.

“When I started doing these visits, even our office staff didn’t believe men would want to discuss ED openly,” Leocadio says. “The truth is, they love it.”

Leocadio says patients and their partners appreciate a protected place where their ED concerns are validated and they can finally talk about them.

He adds, “Sex is a team sport, and both team members need to be on the same page. They need to work together to succeed.”

The SMAs are real medical appointments and are covered by insurance.

Leocadio also performs surgery to correct incontinence that may result from prostate cancer surgery. Depending on the severity of incontinence, a male urethral sling or an artificial urethral sphincter can be surgically placed.

Peyronie’s disease and urethral stricture disease are scarring disorders that usually result from an injury. Peyronie’s disease is the development of fibrous scar tissue inside the penis that causes curved, painful erections. In some patients, the resulting curve may not interfere with intercourse; in others, the curvature can be so severe or painful that it prevents intercourse completely.

“Depending on how severe the curve is, we can treat Peyronie’s disease with Xiaflex injections or with one of several reconstructive surgeries,” Leocadio says. “Xiaflex is a newer treatment option for men suffering with Peyronie’s disease that we offer at Rockford Urological. It involves injections and may prevent the need for reconstructive surgery.”

Urethral stricture disease consists of scar formation inside the urethra which blocks the normal flow of urine and can lead to serious health complications. For severe strictures, Leocadio performs a surgery called urethroplasty, in which the scarred section is reconstructed using a graft from the patient’s mouth (inner cheek), eliminating the blockage and allowing the man to empty his bladder properly again. In some cases, the entire length of the urethra is involved.

It’s no small thing that these procedures are available to patients in Rockford. “Relatively few urologists in the country are trained in these specialized reconstructive techniques and nearly all are involved in major university programs,” says Leocadio.

Kidney stones affect patients of every age, including children. Dr. Eric Taylor, a board-eligible urologist, recently joined the team at Rockford Urological. He became interested in complex kidney stone surgery and wanted to focus on treating this disorder in children and adults.

“I completed a fellowship at the University of California-San Francisco,” Taylor says. “I enjoy caring for people and am trained to do everything I can to help them surgically as well as educate them on how to prevent stones from forming.”

Taylor says he is the only kidney stone specialist in the greater Rockford region who is fellowship-trained in this particular element of urological care. He uses da Vinci robotics as well as laparoscopy to perform surgery on patients with stones and obstructions, and to treat kidney cancer.

Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive alternative to standard open surgery. A special camera called a laparoscope is used to view the inside of the abdominal cavity. Also called “keyhole” or “band aid” surgery, laparoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure because it requires several small, one-half to one-inch incisions rather than a single large one in the abdomen.

“We’re seeing increasing incidents in kidney stones, not only in adults, but also in children,” Taylor explains. “Diet, genetics and the use of medications can be the cause. Once the immediate problem is resolved, changes in lifestyle and diet, among other adjustments, help to prevent stones from recurring.”

Taylor says each patient is evaluated on an individual basis, including blood and urine testing. Kidney stones may be treated with medications that dissolve them, relieving pain and possibly eliminating the need for surgery, he adds.

“I find it satisfying to help patients with urological problems through complex medical and surgical treatments,” Taylor says. “It’s relatively unusual for urologists to specialize in this type of complex treatment.”

Rockford Urological also brings the most advanced technology and treatment to patients who’ve been diagnosed with difficult-to-treat cancer.

Dr. Christopher Whelan is a board-certified urologist who specializes in prostate, bladder and kidney cancer. With a two-year fellowship at the City of Hope cancer center in Duarte, Calif., Whelan has been on staff at Rockford Urological for more than two years.

“I use minimally invasive techniques, robotics and laparoscopy to treat major kidney cancer,” Whelan explains. “The tumor can be removed in a procedure called a partial nephrectomy, sparing the kidney. The patient still has the full use of both kidneys instead of just one. The outcomes are a lot better. The survival rate depends on how much cancer is involved, but we usually have a 90-percent cure rate. If there are no small renal masses, typically no radiation or chemotherapy is necessary.”

Whelan also performs cystectomies, usually for advanced cancer patients whose bladders were removed using robotic surgery. Advantages of minimally invasive procedures include less blood loss and faster recovery time.

“The patient then has several options for urinary diversion,” Whelan says. “We can use a neo-bladder to replace the diseased one and actually attach it to the urethra. The patient will be able to urinate normally.”

A second option is what Whelan calls an Indiana pouch.

“There’s no incontinence bag involved,” Whelan explains. “Instead, we create a pouch from the patient’s intestines, with a subcutaneous diversion using a small catheter. The patient drains the pouch a few times daily.”

These effective new methods substantially improve a patient’s quality of life.

“It all depends on the patient and what he or she wants,” Whelan says. “It’s relatively unusual for this type of treatment to be provided through a clinic. Most of the time, the patient would need to go to a major university medical center.”

Rockford Urological intends to add another general urologist and a specialist in female disorders in the near future, says Fumo.

“Gynecologists do treat feminine urological problems, but we can provide an alternative viewpoint for bladder dysfunction and incontinence that may prove to be more helpful,” Fumo explains.

Because of Rockford Urological’s continuing commitment to provide the most advanced, skilled and comprehensive urological care, the greater Rockford community enjoys excellent care without the need to travel outside the area.

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