Urethral Stricture

The urethra is “the last part” of the urinary tract, and it moves urine from the bladder so that it can be excreted. The urethra is naturally big enough to allow the smooth passage of urine. In some instances, the passage may be narrowed resulting in difficulties in the urine flow. This effect is called urethral stricture.

A urethral stricture is a condition more common among men than women.

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About the Urinary Tract

The urethra is part of the urinary tract. The urinary tract runs from the kidneys to the urethra. Kidneys set the ball rolling by receiving blood and purifying it. The kidneys’ filtering units, known as nephrons, filter the blood. Urine is the byproduct of the filtration. The lower ends of each individual kidney are connected with a ureter. Each ureter is like a thin pipe that runs from the kidneys all the way to the bladder. These ureters carry urine to the bladder.

The bladder’s function is to hold the urine until it is ready for excretion. When the time comes, the bladder sends a signal to the brain. The bladder valves open, allowing urine to move through to the urethra. The urethra allows the urine to pass through as it makes its way out of the body. For men, the urethra is a bit longer since urine has to leave the body through the penis.

About the Urinary Tract

Essential Facts About Urethral Stricture

Here are several facts about urethral stricture:

  • Urethral strictures mainly affect men and rarely affect women.
  • Congenital urethral strictures (which happen at birth) are rare as well.
  • Urethral strictures may sometimes not show any symptoms at all.
  • Medication does not help in treating the condition. Surgical procedures are the best solution.
  • Urethral stricture can be treated.

Causes of Urethral Stricture

Here are some of the causes of urethral stricture:

  • Injury or damage – the healing of the urethra may result in the healing tissue causing a scar.
  • Cancer, although this is rare
  • Some babies are born with the condition
  • Infections such as STIs

Risk Factors for Urethral Stricture

There are several risks associated with urethral stricture. These include:

  • Having frequent STIs
  • Having a catheter
  • Urethritis
  • Enlarged prostate

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Healthy Living Tips for Urethral Stricture

To prevent urethral stricture, you should ensure that the urethra does not get injured or damaged and that it is well-protected. This may include avoiding sports or activities that may result in injuries. You should also be wary of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs).

Healthy Living Tips for Urethral Stricture

Urethral Stricture Symptoms and Problems

The majority of men affected by urethral stricture have increasing difficulty in passing urine and sometimes, they have to hold their urine for longer than necessary. In others, the condition will just seem to emerge spontaneously, creating problematic symptoms.

A urethral stricture can also affect the prostate and cause prostate inflammation known as prostatitis. In rare cases, urethral stricture causes acute renal retention or the complete inability to pass urine.

When to See a Doctor in Atlanta for a Urethral Stricture

You may need to see a doctor if you’re experiencing urethral stricture symptoms. When this happens, the urine flow changes and the urine passes slowly. People may even struggle a bit to pass urine, but it is rare for the urine flow to be completely blocked. Urinary tract infections and painful or abnormal urination are common in people suffering from a urethral stricture.

If you’re experiencing symptoms related to a urethral stricture, see a doctor immediately, especially if the symptoms persist or worsen. Call us at 678-344-8900 to schedule an appointment.

Diagnosis of Urethral Stricture

There are several diagnostic methods for urethral stricture which can include urinalysis, urinary flow testing, urethral ultrasound, pelvic ultrasound, MRI of the pelvis, x-rays and cystoscopy. All of these can detect whether there are problems in the bladder, urethra or pelvic region which may be causing the urethral stricture.

Treatments for Urethral Stricture

A treatment is usually given in order to prevent further complications. It also aims to stabilize the urine flow and deal with the uncomfortable symptoms.

Stricture Dilation

A thin rod or boogie is passed into the urethra. Rods are inserted gradually, and each time the rod is inserted, the thickness is slightly increased so that the constricted urethra can dilate. Though the stricture may dilate when the rod is inserted, it tends to constrict when it is removed. As a result, this process needs to be repeated often whenever the symptoms appear again. Sometimes, patients may be given a catheter (self-lubricating tube) which they constantly insert on their own in order to prevent the stricture from narrowing. The dilation procedure works best if the stricture is shorter. The process itself is easy and it is wise to give it first preference when treating the condition.

Urethroplasty

Urethroplasty is a surgery that may be used if other procedures have failed. There are many techniques that can be used with the aim of achieving the same result. This makes it a bit flexible. However, it is more of a corrective procedure. The technique used will depend on the specialist treating the patient.

This procedure is great for treating symptoms. This technique either removes or enlarges the narrowed stricture. The surrounding tissue may need to be reconstructed as a result of the procedure. Urethral stricture is unlikely to return after urethroplasty.

Urethrotomy

A thin telescope is inserted into the urethra to locate where the stricture is. Once it is located, a small knife is used to is directed towards the telescope and used to cut the stricture. Once stricture is cut, the urethra widens again.

This procedure works well in treating the symptoms. There chances of curing patients once and for all using this technique is 50 percent.

However, as time goes on, the stricture may return and constrict the urethra again. This procedure needs to be done from time to time.

Catheterization

A small tube (catheter) is inserted into the bladder and drains the urine. This is normally the first stop when treating urine blockage. Self-catheterization is a highly recommended method of urethral stricture treatment at home if the stricture is not severe.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics may be used over a period of time to prevent possible urinary tract infections. The antibiotics are used until the urethral stricture becomes wide enough to allow normal urine flow.