A urethral stricture is a narrowing of the urethra, usually due to injury, infection or inflammation. The urethra is the tube responsible for carrying urine out of the bladder. The narrowing of the urethra can severely restrict the flow of urine from the bladder, blocking it completely in some cases. Urethral stricture occurs more commonly in men, as they have a longer urethra than women.
Causes of Urethral Stricture
While not all causes for urethral stricture can be identified, it may be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Urethral or prostate cancer
- Prostate removal surgery
- Pelvic fracture
In some case, the extended use of a urethral catheter may cause a urethral stricture.
Symptoms of Urethral Stricture
A common symptom of urethral stricture is a sudden slowing of the urine stream. Other symptoms may include:
- Decreased amounts of urine during urination
- Swollen penis
- Pelvic pain
- Painful urination
- Urine leakage after urination
- Blood in the urine
- Urinary tract infections
If left untreated, a urethral stricture can cause infections to the prostate, bladder and kidneys, potentially causing serious problems. It is important for patients to seek prompt medical attention upon experiencing these symptoms.
Diagnosis of Urethral Stricture
A urethral stricture is diagnosed through a physical examination and review a patient's medical history. Additional tests may be performed, and include:
- Pelvic ultrasound
Urine tests are also performed to check for the presence of blood, bacteria and infection. A series of tests is often necessary to rule out other conditions.
Treatment of Urethral Stricture
Urethral stricture only requires treatment if symptoms are noticeable. Immediate treatment is necessary for urethral strictures causing pain or blocking the urine flow. For mild cases a catheter may be used to open the urethra and correct the stricture. Severe cases may require a surgical reconstruction of the urethra.
Regular follow-up exams are usually necessary for at least a year after a urethral stricture has been treated to ensure that it does not recur. A doctor will determine the best course of treatment based on patient's individual symptoms and condition.