Big things are in store for the Urology Clinic at Driscoll Children’s Medical Plaza – McAllen (1120 East Ridge Road), with the upcoming inclusion of urodynamic testing at the clinic.

The children of the Rio Grande Valley will benefit greatly from the establishment of urodynamic testing at Driscoll’s Urology Clinic in McAllen, since it will be the first pediatric-focused clinic in the Rio Grande Valley to offer the testing.

Urodynamic testing is a study that assesses how the bladder and urethra are performing their job of storing and releasing urine. A urodynamic (UD) test helps physicians learn more about a child’s bladder capacity, a child’s bladder pressures, and a child’s ability to hold and empty urine.
“Adding urodynamic testing to the McAllen clinic makes it more accessible to the community and it means quicker and more efficient care for the patients,” said Pediatric Urologist Leon Smith-Harrison, MD, one of two Driscoll Children’s Hospital urologists who travel to the Valley to see patients.

“Having urodynamic testing offered in McAllen will be of great benefit for many of our patients in the Rio Grande Valley area that up to this point needed to travel to our clinic in Corpus Christi to have the testing done. Providing this care locally in McAllen will increase treatment compliance and therefore will improve the care to our patients,” said Pediatric Urologist Omar Cruz-Diaz, MD.

“Most of the patients requiring urodynamic testing need close follow-up, sometimes repeating studies every 6-12 months in order to monitor changes in the functionality, elasticity, capacity, contractility, etc., that could affect renal function. Detecting these changes on time decreases chances of infections, renal failure, hemodialysis and kidney transplantation,” said Dr. Cruz-Diaz.

UD testing will be available in McAllen in August. The tests will be administered by Driscoll nurse practitioners Natalie Barganski, RN, CPNP, and Melissa Miller, RN, FNP-C, and the results will be read by Drs. Smith-Harrison and Cruz-Diaz. Primary care physicians can’t schedule a UD test, so patients must first be evaluated by a urologist.

In addition to the McAllen clinic, Driscoll Children’s Hospital has Urology clinics at Driscoll Children’s Specialty Center – Brownsville (5500 North Expressway 77), Driscoll Children’s Specialty Center – Harlingen (2121 Pease St., Medical Arts Pavilion, Suite 600), Driscoll Children’s Specialty Center – Laredo (7210 McPherson Road, Suite 104, Building A), Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi (3533 South Alameda St., Furman Building, Suite 301), and Driscoll Children’s Specialty Center – Victoria (115 Medical Drive, Suite 201).

In the Rio Grande Valley, Dr. Smith-Harrison sees patients in McAllen, while Dr. Cruz-Diaz sees patients in McAllen, Brownsville and Laredo.

The daVinci XI Surgical System is an advanced robotic device that allows Omar Cruz-Diaz, MD (left), and Leon Smith-Harrison, MD, to better perform laparoscopic surgery. The daVinci offers minimally invasive surgery, faster recovery time, smaller incisions, and less pain and blood loss for patients.

Drs. Smith-Harrison and Cruz-Diaz are proud of all their staff at the various Valley clinics.

“We have a fantastic staff that begins with our receptionists who answer the calls. Our medical assistants, registered nurses and nurse practitioners screen and address our patients’ needs. They are dedicated professionals who do not give up until our patients’ needs are fulfilled,” said Dr. Smith-Harrison.

“Being the primary interface with the patients, the staff is indispensable to the providers in caring for our patients. We establish the trust with our patients by providing timely and supportive care,” said Dr. Smith-Harrison.

Such trust is important, especially when parents have to decide what kind of care they want their children to receive.

“In the pediatric world, I like to think that we are a team: a team that involves nurses, technicians, medical assistants, physicians, but more importantly, the parents. First of all, parents are the ones who take the initial decision of trusting their child to our practice. They decide whether or not they will pursue surgery, whether or not they will give the medication, whether or not they will follow recommendations provided in our encounters. As you can see, parents are the key element to the success of treatment of our patients,” said Dr. Cruz-Diaz.

Individualized care
is important to Driscoll physicians.

“Children are unique when it comes to their diagnoses and pathology that need to be addressed; therefore our medical approach is indeed different. Children react differently. The parents are also involved in these visits and they need to be addressed as well, so that they are able to care for the children properly,” said Dr. Smith-Harrison.

Driscoll’s Urology clinics offer comprehensive services for children from birth to 21 years of age. Areas of expertise for Urology medical staff involve children’s kidneys, bladder, congenital anomalies, bladder infections, urinary incontinence, kidney stones, cancers, urinary tract infections, and complex reconstruction.

The clinics also offer specialized care to children with a vast array of pathologies involving the genitourinary system such as undescended testicles, hydrocele/inguinal hernias, neurogenic bladder/bowel, voiding dysfunction, ambiguous genitalia, penile anomalies (hypospadias, epispadias, penile torsion, penile curvature), bladder exstrophy, cloacal anomalies, among others.

“We are able to meet all and any pediatric urology needs. The primary challenge that we come across often is distance. We see a plethora of patients and most of them live in the Rio Grande Valley or in between the Valley and Corpus Christi,” said Dr. Smith-Harrison.

To meet such needs, education is necessary.

“Education is an integral aspect of pediatric urology. On some occasions, education is the only management that certain patients require. For example, patients who have voiding dysfunction (bedwetting, urinary incontinence, urinary holding, etc.) require a profound education not only for the patient but for their family support system. Currently, our nurse practitioners and ourselves are directly involved in providing education to our patients,” said Dr. Cruz-Diaz.

“Our patients are children, so they need to be reached at their age level of communication. We stress during the time of the visit to the parents the child’s needs to educate them as to what is going on with their child. Recently, we also started doing weekend conferences to offer additional education for the parents and patients,” said Dr. Smith-Harrison.

Driscoll urologists believe in using the latest in medical technology to help their young patients. Both physicians have seen numerous technological advances during their medical careers.

“The primary change in technology has revolved around computers and the internet in communication, medical records, diagnostic equipment, and robots. Because of this with regards to surgery, we’ve developed a way to perform minimal invasive surgeries,” said Dr. Smith-Harrison. Currently, only minor procedures such as circumcision are offered in the Valley.

The daVinci XI Surgical System is one device the urologists are utilizing in performing laparoscopic surgery. The daVinci is an advanced robotic device which allows for minimally invasive surgery, faster recovery time, smaller incisions, and less pain and blood loss for patients.
“One of our goals is to continue expanding the robotic program to include more challenging/advanced robotic surgical procedures such as bladder augmentation and bladder neck surgery,” said Dr. Cruz-Diaz.

“There will always be a need to balance technology and science with ‘the art of medicine,’ ” said Dr. Smith-Harrison.

Both physicians are keenly aware of the importance of properly practicing “the art of medicine.”

“We believe it’s a privilege and honor to care for our pediatric urology patients in South Texas. We are honored by the trust given to us by patients. We are able to provide a spectrum of pediatric urology care, from the medical diagnosis to the treatments and finally their surgeries. We are absolutely committed to providing state-of-the-art care to the children of the Rio Grande Valley,” said Dr. Smith-Harrison.

“I always remind myself of the privilege of being a pediatric urologist. With every patient that I take care of, I am not only impacting the life of the patient, I also impact the life of the people surrounding the child, with every decision, with every word, with every gesture. I just feel blessed,” said Dr. Cruz-Diaz. “My passion of providing excellent care will never change, regardless of the challenges that a patient may present.”