Your urethra is a tube-like vessel that carries urine from your bladder to outside your body. Injury to the tissue lining your urethra can result in a stricture. Urethral strictures are fairly common in men, and can occur in women as well, but much more rarely. Dr. Paul Chung is an expert in treating men’s health issues, including urethral stricture disease.
Here he details more about the condition, lists some of the most common symptoms, and outlines some treatment options.
Urethral strictures 101
A urethral stricture is scar tissue inside your urethra that causes it to become narrow and restrict the flow of urine. In many cases, around 30%, doctors don’t know why the scar tissue forms—these are called idiopathic cases. Another 30% or so are caused by some kind of procedure, such as extended use of a catheter, or when instruments are inserted for different kinds of tests.
Men who get treatment for prostate cancer have a higher risk of urethral strictures, and injury to your penis can cause urethral strictures, too. For example, a straddle injury is a common cause of strictures. Urethral strictures can also develop as a result of inflammation, which can be due to repeated urinary tract infections, or diseases such as gonorrhea.
Symptoms of urethral stricture disease
The main symptom of a urethral stricture is a decreased urine stream. Other symptoms include:
- Inability to completely empty your bladder
- A spraying urine stream
- Pain when you urinate
- Straining to urinate
- Urinating frequently
Urethral stricture disease may also be accompanied by a urinary tract infection.
Treatments for urethral strictures
A common–but often ineffective–way to treat urethral stricture disease is with a process called dilation. The goal of dilation is to stretch the stricture to allow for better urine flow. During this procedure, the doctor uses special tools to stretch the stricture. The problem with dilation is that the results tend to be temporary and you’ll likely need to have it repeated throughout your life.
A more permanent treatment option is a surgery called urethroplasty. Dr. Chung makes an incision, removes the stricture, and reconstructs your urethra. In some cases, he may peform a buccal graft, which is a procedure that he uses to gather a bit of tissue from the inside of your mouth to repair your urethra.
After surgery, a catheter is left in place to give your urethra time to heal. It usually takes several weeks to recover following urethroplasty, depending on your situation. A patient may best benefit from urethroplasy if they want to be cured of their stricture disease and want to avoid repeated procedures to stretch the stricture.
Personalized treatment plan
If your urine stream is slow, sprays, or you have repeated urinary tract infections, schedule an appointment with Dr. Chung. He performs a thorough investigation into your situation before making treatment suggestions.
It’s important for Dr. Chung to understand your symptoms, medical history, and other factors. He may ask you to undergo various tests before he creates a plan to treat your issues. This kind of personal attention ensures you receive the care that you need.