What is a Urethral Stricture?
A urethral stricture is a narrowing caused by scarring of the lining of the urethra and the surrounding corpus spongiosum. Strictures can range from less than 1cm long to those that extend the entire length of the urethra. They can occur at any point along the urethra but are most often seen in the bulbar region.
With minor strictures, there may be less signs of any symptoms. With tighter strictures, patients may experience one or more of the following:
- Poor urinary flow and needing to strain to pass urine
- Spraying or splitting of the urinary stream
- Dribbling of urine after urination
- Needing to pass urine often (urinary frequency)
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)
- Reduced force of ejaculation and low ejaculate volume, and
- Pain on passing urine
A stricture can act as a “bottleneck” which prevents complete bladder emptying. This can cause the patient to retain urine in their bladder after they pass urine, which can result in bladder, prostate or kidney infections, and lead to the formation of stones. All of these conditions can cause long-term bladder damage and kidney failure.
Many types of treatment are available, ranging from conservative or minimally invasive procedures, right through to complex reconstructive operations. The goal of treatment is to relieve the symptoms caused by the stricture and, if possible, to reduce the risk of the stricture returning.
The type of treatment recommended by Urology healthcare professionals depends on several factors:
- Patient preference
- The site (region) and length of the stricture
- The cause of the stricture
- Any previous treatments received relating to stricture management, and
- Patient’s general health
For more information on the types of treatment available for the treatment of urethral stricture please visit the British Association of Urological Surgeons website and view their ‘general information about urethral stricture disease leaflet’ https://www.baus.org.uk/_userfiles/pages/files/Patients/Leaflets/Urethral%20stricture%20disease.pdf