A urethral stricture is the narrowing of the small tube that carries urine from your bladder to the outside world. If the urethra becomes blocked urine cannot flow easily, and it can make going to the bathroom difficult. This is referred to as urethral stricture disease. It can happen to men and women.
What is the cause of urethral stricture disease?
Urethral stricture disease is often caused by scar tissue in the urethra, which can develop after infection, trauma or injury. The most common cause for urethral trauma is the result of a pelvic fracture, usually during a car accident or straddle injury (such as a kick to the groin). A urethral stricture can also form after the placement of a Foley catheter or surgery performed on the prostate. Patients who have had history of sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia can also experience urethral stricture disease.
What are the symptoms of urethral stricture disease?
People who develop urethral stricture disease may experience a range of symptoms from mild to severe. Some common symptoms include:
- Poor urinary flow or urinary dribbling
- Discomfort during urination
- Urgency or frequency with urination
- Split urinary stream
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Difficulty emptying bladder with possible need for catheter
How is urethral stricture diagnosed?
Your urologist may perform a variety of exams or test to see if you have urethral stricture disease. This may include an X-ray to see the course of your urethra and direct visualization of your urinary tract.
How is urethral stricture disease treated?
There are non-surgical and surgical options, depending on the severity, to help treat urethral strictures.
- Non-surgical options: The simplest treatment option is urethral dilation; this procedure can help patients in the short term. Depending on the location of the urethral stricture this option may be used, but may only be a temporary fix. It should not be performed more than once as it may lead to more scar formation within the urethra.
- Surgical options: The gold standard for treatment of urethral strictures is a urethroplasty. During this procedure the surgeon will remove the scar tissue and reconstruct the urethra. Urethroplasty has the most durable results. This is an outpatient procedure and patients return home the same day for recovery.
If you have questions or concerns about urethra stricture disease, schedule an appointment with an Ochsner Urologist.