Urethral stricture disease is an abnormal narrowing or blockage in the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder. This condition most commonly affects men and rarely occurs in women.
The constriction of the urethra is usually caused by inflammation or the presence of scar tissue. Scar tissue can be a result of many factors. Possible causes and risk factors include:
- Inflammation or scar tissue from surgery, disease or injury
- Tumor (rare)
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Injury to the pelvic area
Urethral strictures can be asymptomatic or can cause numerous symptoms, which range from mild to severe. Some of the possible symptoms and complications include:
- Sudden and frequent urges to urinate
- Difficulty urinating
- Inability to urinate or completely empty bladder
- Pain during urination
- Urinary incontinence
- Bloody urine
- Pelvic or lower abdominal pain
- Discharge from the urethra
- Urinary tract infections in men
Treatment options for urethral stricture disease vary depending on the length, location, and degree of scar tissue associated with the stricture. The most common method of treatment is to widen the urethra using a medical instrument called a dilator. In this outpatient procedure, your physician will pass a small wire through the urethra and into the bladder. The size of the dilator used will gradually increase as the width of the urethra grows.
Surgical repair is another option that your physician may explore. An open urethroplasty may be performed for longer, more severe strictures.