Urethral stricture: What causes it?
What causes urethral strictures? How are they treated?
- Hal / California
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A urethral stricture is a narrowing in any part of the urethra — the tube that drains urine from the bladder. This impairs normal urine flow. Urethral strictures occur primarily in men because they have a longer urethra than women do. Causes include:
- Urethral injury, disease, catheterization or surgery that results in inflammation or scar tissue
- Urethral infections, such as gonorrhea
- Rarely, a tumor in the urethra
Strictures may also be present at birth (congenital), but this is uncommon. Signs and symptoms of a urethral stricture include:
- Decreased urine flow
- Incomplete emptying of bladder
- Painful urination
- Urinary tract infection
- Blood in the urine
A doctor can confirm a diagnosis by:
- X-ray with dye injection into the urethra
- Cystoscopy, a procedure in which your doctor inserts a narrow tube (cystoscope) with a camera attached into the urethra
Treatment of urethral strictures may include:
- Inserting a tube in the abdomen (suprapubic catheter) to drain the bladder for temporary, short-term relief
- Dilating the stricture by inserting a narrow instrument into the urethra
- Internal incision of the stricture via a cystoscope or endoscope
- Placing a permanent catheter through the urethra to drain the bladder
- Surgery to correct the condition (open urethroplasty)
The use of urethral stents was a promising development in the treatment of strictures. But such stents had poor long-term results. As a result, stents are now only rarely used in the treatment of urethral strictures.
Without appropriate treatment, the stricture will almost always recur.