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    Urethral stricture

    Urethral stricture is an abnormal narrowing of the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder (urethra).

    Causes

    Urethral stricture may be caused by inflammation or scar tissue from surgery, disease, or injury. It may also be caused by pressure from a growing tumor near the urethra, although this is rare.

    Other risks include:

    • Sexually transmitted infection (STI)
    • Procedures that place a tubeinto the urethra (such as a catheter or cystoscope)
    • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
    • Injury to the pelvic area
    • Repeated urethritis

    Strictures that are present at birth (congenital) are rare. Strictures in women are rare.

    Symptoms

    • Blood in the semen
    • Bloody or dark urine
    • Decreased urine output
    • Difficulty urinating
    • Discharge from the urethra
    • Frequent or urgent urination
    • Inability to urinate (urinary retention)
    • Incontinence
    • Painful urination (dysuria)
    • Pain in the lower abdomen
    • Pelvic pain
    • Slow urine stream (may develop suddenly or gradually)
    • Spraying of urine stream
    • Swelling of the penis

    Exams and Tests

    A physical examination may show the following:

    • Decreased urinary stream
    • Discharge from the urethra
    • Enlarged (distended) bladder
    • Enlarged or tender lymph nodes in the groin (inguinal) area
    • Enlarged or tender prostate
    • Hardness (induration) on the under surface of the penis
    • Redness or swelling of the penis

    Sometimes the exam reveals no abnormalities.

    Tests include the following:

    • Cystoscopy
    • Post-void residual (PVR) volume
    • Retrograde urethrogram
    • Tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea
    • Urinalysis
    • Urinary flow rate
    • Urine culture

    Treatment

    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 successful or 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 involves removal of the diseased part followed by reconstruction. 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)

    Treatment usually results in an excellent outcome. However, repeated therapies may be needed toremove the scar tissue.

    Possible Complications

    Urethral stricture may totally block urine flow, causing acute urinary retention. This condition must be treated quickly.

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if symptoms of urethral stricture occur.

    Prevention

    Practicing safer-sex behaviors may decrease the risk of gettingSTIs and urethral stricture.

    Treating urethral stricture quickly may prevent kidney or bladder complications.

    References

    Jordan GH. McCammon KA. Surgery of the penis and urethra. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 36.

    Brill JR. Diagnosis and treatment of urethritis in men. Am Fam Physician. 2010 Apr 1;81(7):873-8.

    McCormack WM. Urethritis. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 106.

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    • Female urinary tract

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    • Male urinary tract

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      • Female urinary tract

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      • Male urinary tract

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      Self Care

        Tests for Urethral stricture

          Review Date: 9/24/2012

          Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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