The urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder so it can be expelled from the body.
Usually the urethra is wide enough for urine to flow freely through it. When the urethra narrows, it can restrict urinary flow. This is known as a urethral stricture.
Urethral stricture is a medical condition that mainly affects men.
Some men have an elevated risk of developing urethral stricture, especially those who have:
Urethral stricture can cause numerous symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Some of the signs of a urethral stricture include:
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 done in severe cases. It has risks, such as bladder irritation and urinary tract infection.
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 stricture size.
In severe cases, a complete urinary diversion procedure may be necessary. This surgery permanently reroutes the flow of urine to an opening in the abdomen. It involves using part of the intestines to help connect the ureters to the opening. Urinary diversion is usually only performed if the bladder is severely damaged or if it needs to be removed.