Department of Urology

February 16, 2021

Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, UW Medicine’s Center of Excellence in Trauma and Reconstructive Urology Serves Patients Across the Region

No other medical center in the Pacific Northwest offers the depth and breadth of reconstructive urology expertise provided by the team of urologists at UW Medicine’s Center of Excellence in Trauma and Reconstructive Urology.

Forged by highly skilled urologists more than 20 years ago, UW Medicine’s Center of Excellence in Trauma and Reconstructive Urology helps patients whose lives are overwhelmed by urinary and genital conditions. Leading the Department is Chair Hunter Wessells, MD, and urologists Judith Hagedorn, MD, MPH, Alex Skokan, MD, and Jonathan Wingate, MD; all are dedicated to the health best outcomes of their patients, advancing research and training the next generation of urologists.

Reconstructive Surgery

Together, the surgery team performs over 800 surgical procedures a year to restore the function to the kidneys, bladder, urethra and genital system. In addition to sharing the responsibilities for the care for injured patients and those with urethral strictures, each surgeon has subspecialized areas, which allow further refinement of expertise. These include robotic bladder, ureteral and kidney reconstruction; use of implants for the most complex erectile dysfunction and male incontinence care; and genital reconstructive surgery, including patients in UW Medicine’s Transgender Medicine Program.

Complex Trauma

Men and women from across the country who require advanced urological surgical care come to Harborview Medical Center, the region’s level 1 trauma center, and UW Medical Center. Here, the faculty and staff care for complex trauma patients and perform delicate reconstructive surgeries to restore function to the urogenital tract after injury, cancer surgery, radiation therapy, soft tissue infections and as part of gender affirming care.

One unforgettable, very difficult case involved a 16-year-old boy who was in a severe car accident that severed his urethra and injured his pelvic arteries.

“Rather than giving up after several unsuccessful surgeries, we persevered – reconnecting the arteries and creating a new urethra made from part of his forearm skin,” recalls Dr. Wessells.

“Fast forward 10 years – I was thrilled to get his phone call last month announcing the birth of his third child. This patient taught me that with collaboration amongst all the surgical specialties at UW Medicine, and with the patient and their goals at the center, we can persevere to achieve results that were truly unimaginable in years past.”

Urology Fellowship

The regional success enjoyed by a diverse, innovative staff continues to attract new talent who are driven by the same desire to serve the evolving, complex needs of patients.

The Trauma and Reconstructive Urology fellowship, now in its 16th year, continues to grow in response to the needs of patients and learners, and advances in surgery and technology. Seeking to train leaders in the field, graduates from the program have joined faculty at UC San Fransisco, University of Washington, Michigan, UNC, MD Anderson, Lahey Clinic, Memorial Sloan Kettering and more.

Innovation is a key element in the field of urogenital trauma and reconstruction and the Centers research and educational programs seek to further knowledge that ultimately will enhance the care of patients and their families. Faculty, residents and fellows work in concert to investigate mechanisms of underlying kidney and bladder injury. They also participate in the creation of guidelines and simulation curricula establishing optimal care of patients for urotrauma, urethral stricture, and pediatric renal trauma.

Collectively, the members of the UW Medicine Trauma and Reconstructive Urology program are optimistic about the future of their program and the communities they serve. Because all staff and trainees are empowered to contribute to the providing the best possible care for patients and solving the most challenging reconstructive problems in the world.