Urethral stricture is a fairly common men’s health problem that has been documented since ancient times. Unfortunately, the treatments for it don’t always prevent recurrence, for what can become a debilitating condition.
Dr. Paul Chung, an expert in men’s health issues, has offered the two most common treatments for urethral stricture, urethral dilation and urethrotomy and urethroplasty, and is happy to add the Optilume® urethral drug-coated balloon to that list. Whether you’ve recently developed a stricture, or you’ve been experiencing recurrence for many years, Optilume could be the right solution for you.
Where and why strictures happen
Your urethra is quite long, with the average length being 10-12 inches from the bladder to the tip of the penis. Because men have such a long urethra, there’s a higher chance of developing a urethral disease or injury than in women, where the urethra is much shorter. Narrowing can happen at any point in the urethra, and it restricts the flow of urine.
Common symptoms of a urethral stricture include:
- Blood in the urine or seman
- Slow urine stream
- Spraying urine stream
- Pain while urinating
- Abdominal pain
- Common urinary tract infections
- Leaking urine
- Swelling of the penis
- Loss of bladder control
Urethral dilation and urethrotomy
Dilation involves gradually stretching your urethra. This is usually done with tools called “sounds.” The problem with dilation is that the stricture usually returns.
Similarly, a urethrotomy is a procedure in which a knife blade or laser is used to remove the stricture. Afterward, a catheter is inserted while your urethra heals. Again, recurrence is a common problem.
Surgical intervention in the form of a urethroplasty involves the complete removal of the stricture, as well as reconstruction if necessary.
The Optilume urethral drug-coated balloon is new. During this treatment, Dr. Chung uses mechanical dilation with a balloon to break apart the stricture, similar to traditional dilation. The difference is that the balloon is coated with a drug that helps to prevent the recurrence of the stricture.
The drug is called paclitaxel and it works to limit the proliferation of the cells that create the stricture. When those cells don’t multiply, it reduces the chance of scarring, which is what causes recurrence of the stricture.
The combination of dilation and drug delivery provides outstanding results, with fewer instances of recurrence, which means less time in the doctor’s office and less discomfort for you.
If you have urethral stricture, or suspect that you might, schedule an appointment with Dr. Chung today. He’s happy to provide a correct diagnosis and to discuss the course of treatment likely to work best for you depending on your specific circumstances.