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Definition Return to top
Urethral stricture is an abnormal narrowing of the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder (urethra).
Causes Return to top
Urethral stricture may be caused by inflammation or scar tissue from surgery, disease, or injury. It may also be caused by pressure from an enlarging tumor near the urethra, although this is rare.
Other risks include:
Strictures that are present at birth (congenital) are rare. Strictures in women are also rare.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
A physical examination may show the following:
Sometimes the exam reveals no abnormalities.
Tests include the following:
Treatment Return to top
The urethra may be widened (dilated) during cystoscopy by inserting a thin instrument to stretch the urethra while you are under local anesthesia. You may be able to treat your stricture by learning to dilate the urethra at home.
If urethral dilation is not possible, you may need surgery to correct the condition. Surgical options depend on the location and length of the stricture. If the stricture is short and not near the urinary sphincter, options include cutting the stricture via cystoscopy or inserting a dilating device.
An open urethroplasty may be done for longer strictures. This surgery removes the diseased part or replaces it with other tissue. The results vary depending on the size and location, the number of treatments you have had, and the surgeon's experience.
In cases of acute urinary retention, a suprapubic catheter may be placed as an emergency treatment. This allows the bladder to drain through the abdomen.
There are currently no drug treatments for this disease. If all else fails, a urinary diversion -- appendicovesicostomy (Mitrofanoff procedure) -- may be done. This allows you to perform self-catheterization of the bladder through the wall of the abdomen.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Treatment usually results in an excellent outcome. However, repeated therapies may be needed to remove the scar tissue.
Possible Complications Return to top
Urethral stricture may totally block urine flow, causing acute urinary retention. This condition must be treated quickly.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if symptoms of urethral stricture occur.
Prevention Return to top
Practicing safer-sex behaviors may decrease the risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases and urethral stricture.
Treating urethral stricture quickly may prevent complications such as kidney or bladder infection or injury.
References Return to top
Jordan GH, Schlossberg SM. Surgery of the Penis and Urethra. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 33.
Frenkl T, Potts J. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 11.Update Date: 9/7/2008 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Urology, Department of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.