Urethral stricture involves constriction of the urethra. This is usually due to tissue inflammation or the presence of scar tissue. Scar tissue can be a result of many factors. Young boys who have hypospadias surgery (a procedure to correct an underdeveloped urethra) and men who have penile implants have higher chances to develop urethral strictures.
A straddle injury is a common type of trauma that can lead to urethral stricture. Examples of straddle injuries include falling on a bicycle bar or getting hit in the area close to the scrotum.
What Are the Symptoms of Urethral Stricture?
Urethral stricture can cause numerous symptoms, which range from mild to severe. Some of the signs of a urethral stricture include:
- weak urine flow or reduction in the volume of urine
- sudden, frequent urges to urinate
- pain or burning during urination
- inability to control urination (incontinence)
- pain in the pelvic or lower abdominal area
- urethral discharge
- penile swelling and pain
- presence of blood in the semen or urine
- darkening of the urine
- inability to urinate (very serious — requires immediate medical attention)
What Are the Treatment Methods for Urethral Stricture?
Treatment depends on the severity of the condition.
The primary mode of treatment is to make the urethra wider using a medical instrument called a dilator. This is an outpatient procedure, meaning you won’t have to spend the night at the hospital. A doctor will begin by passing a small wire through the urethra and into the bladder to begin to dilate it. Over time, larger dilators will gradually increase the width of the urethra.
Another nonsurgical option is permanent urinary catheter placement. This procedure is usually an option for severe cases. It carries risks such as bladder irritation and urinary tract infections.
Surgery is another option. An open urethroplasty is an option for longer, more severe strictures. This procedure involves removing affected tissue and reconstructing the urethra. Results vary based on the stricture size.
Urine Flow Diversion
A catheter in the abdomen may need to divert and drain urine flow. This is very rare, and considered a last-resort method.