PHYSICAL ASSESSMENT OF THE GENITOURINARY SYSTEM
Genitourinary (GU) problems are fairly common and tend to occur in all age
groups. If neglected, these problems can lead to severe pain, morbidity, or even death.
This lesson will teach you ways to approach and assess the GU problem or complaint in
a very systematic way and to complete a patient history relevant to the genitourinary
PATIENT'S GENITOURINARY HISTORY
The purpose of taking a patient's history is to learn about the patient so that his
present problem can be diagnosed and treated. Generally, taking the patient's history
proceeds by obtaining information from him in these areas--the chief complaint, the
present problem, past medical history, and family history. Some specific questions can
be asked of the patient to obtain necessary information about him.
a. Chief Complaint. Ask the question, "What problem or symptoms brought
you here?" Then ask, "How long has this problem been present?" or "When did these
b. Present Problem or Illness. Ask for the signs and symptoms of the
problem. When did the patient last feel well? What things make the problem worse?
What makes the patient feel better? How does the problem affect the patient's lifestyle
(marriage, leisure activities, ability to perform tasks, ability to cope with stress)? How
has the problem progressed up to the present point (steadily worsening or periods of
being better followed by periods of worsening)?
c. Information Specific to the Genitourinary System. The genitourinary
history of a patient should include certain pertinent information as follows:
Infections or diseases.
Incontinence (inability to control bladder and/or bowel functions).
(d) Physical abnormalities.