Renal and Genitourinary Concerns
Genitourinary (GU) disorders are pervasive in the adult population and broadly include the diagnoses of 15–20% of patients who are discharged from hospitals in the United States. The percentage is higher for ambulatory visits. Along with susceptibility to the common disorders of the general population, the GU system of astronauts is additionally vulnerable to spaceflight- related stresses, both in flight as well as immediately preflight and postflight. These stresses may include rigorous exercise, microgravity, dietary changes, limited availability of drinking water, thermal stress, effects of other spaceflightrelated disorders such as space motion sickness, and influence of medications used to treat other spaceflight-related disorders. Some of these conditions may increase the risk of occurrence of genitourinary disorders or complicate their presentation.
Exposure to microgravity causes a number of metabolic and physiological changes. Fluid volume, electrolyte levels, and bone and muscle undergo changes as the human body adapts to weightlessness. Changes in urinary chemical composition occurring as a part of this adaptation process may lead to the potentially serious consequences of renal stone formation. With the length of human exposure to microgravity extending as we maintain a permanent presence on the International Space Station (ISS), the probability of GU-related illnesses such as renal stones or infections will undoubtedly increase. Exploration-class lunar missions for long-duration settlement and missions to Mars will pose even greater challenges for GU diagnosis and management as immediate return to Earth will not be possible. This chapter reviews spaceflight influences on GU function and disorders that might arise involving this system and describes treatment methods and countermeasures.
KeywordsUric Acid Prostate Specific Antigen Stone Formation Calcium Oxalate Renal Stone
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