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Urethral Stricture: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jun 24, 2023

What is the treatment for Urethral Stricture?

Urethra is a tube that carries urine from the bladder so as to expel it. The urethra normally remains wide enough so as to allow the urine to seamlessly flow through it. Urethral stricture is a condition when the flow of urine is impeded because of the narrowing of the urethra. Mostly men are affected by this ailment.

Urethral stricture is mainly caused due to the inflammation of the tissues or because of the presence of scar tissues. Scar tissues may develop due to a number of reasons. If a man has undergone endoscopy whereby an instrument is inserted into the urethra, he is at risk of developing scar tissues. Other causes are cancer of urethra or prostate, radiation therapy, sexually transmitted infections, trauma or injury to the pelvis or urethra, long-term use of catheter to drain the urinary bladder and an enlarged prostate. Men who have had suffered from sexually transmitted infections, had a recent catheter placement, had urethritis due to infection and an enlarged prostate are at the highest risk of developing this condition.

The treatment for urethral stricture requires the widening of the urethra. It can be done non-surgically by means of a dilator. Surgical procedure in the form of open urethroplasty can also be done to treat this condition. A complete urinary diversion procedure may also be done.

Is Urethral Stricture serious?

The urethra becomes narrower in the Urethral Stricture. It is caused due to inflammation. It may be asymptomatic in some cases, while it shows concerning symptoms too in many cases. There may arise problems associated with urination. Those problems include pain while urinating and slowing of the urine stream than normal. When it is left untreated or delayed treatment is done it may lead to complications like damage to the kidneys and bladder and infertility.

Summary: Urethral Stricture is an asymptomatic condition in which the urethra becomes narrow as a result of inflammation of the same. It may cause painful urination and related symptoms.

What causes male Urethral Stricture?

Urethral Stricture in the case of males is developed by an injury or inflammation which is chronic or prolonged. It results in informing the scar tissue around the urethral opening which causes impairment or discomfort in urination. The common cause includes injury affecting the penis or scrotum and perineum in some cases. The occurrence of sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and the use of catheters for urination in procedures are some other causes for the development of the condition.

Summary: Urethral Stricture in males is usually caused due to any injury or any kind of inflammation to the urethra. Occurrence of these on a prolonged basis causes stricture and painful urination.

How common are Urethral Strictures?

Urethra becomes narrower in Urethral Stricture due to the inflammation of the urethral passage. It occurs more in males. According to a survey conducted to get an idea about the prevalence, it has been shown that the prevalence is more in men i.e 229 to 627 calculated per lakh of the individuals. That means around 0.6% of the men population, especially older individuals are at risk of the development of Urethral Stricture.

Summary: Prevalence of Urethral Strictures is more in males as compared to females. This is based on the survey and is calculated to be 229 to 627 per lakh of the population.

How do I know if I have Urethral Stricture?

We get to know about the condition of Urethral Stricture by experiencing some of the symptoms associated with it. Those symptoms mainly include:

  • Painful urination along with a burning sensation.
  • Abnormal discharge coming out of the urethra.
  • Reduced volume of the urine output.
  • Urination is frequent and arises all of a sudden.
  • Difficulty in urination.
  • Swelling or inflammation in the penis.
  • Samples of blood coming out in the urine and semen as well.
Summary: Symptoms most commonly associated with Urethral Stricture include painful urination, burning sensation while urinating, difficulty in urination, and reduced volume of the urine. Abnormal urethral discharge can also be seen in such conditions.

How is the treatment done?

The non-surgical mode of treatment requires the use of medical instrument called a dilator to make the urethra wider. This is mostly a simple procedure that does not require a patient to get admitted to any hospital as it is an outpatient procedure. A small wire is passed through the urethra and into the bladder. This process helps to dilate the urethra. The width of the urethra gradually increases with the continued use of the large dilators. Another non-surgical method that is used to treat severe cases of urethral stricture is the permanent urinary catheter replacement.

There are no medications to treat urethral stricture. This condition does not go away easily and surgery is generally recommended for people with urethral symptomatic strictures. Direct vision internal urethrotomy is an endoscopic procedure whereby an endoscope is inserted into the urethra to see the stricture. Then a tiny knife is passed through the endoscope to cut the stricture and widen the urethra. Open urethroplasty reconstructs the urethra after the removal of the tissues. Another procedure to treat this condition is the urinary diversion procedure. The flow of the urine is permanently rerouted to an opening in the abdomen. Part of the intestine is used to connect the ureters to the opening. This procedure is generally done when if the bladder is severely damaged or if it is to be removed.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

A person suffering from urethral stricture may experience a number of symptoms like decreased urine steam, difficulty or experience of pain during urinating, frequent urge for urination, incomplete emptying the bladder and urinary tract infection. A person experiencing some or most of these symptoms is eligible for treatment. A doctor will review a patient’s medical history, perform a thorough physical examination and even one or more tests on a patient to determine whether he is suffering from the condition. A person will be eligible after he has been diagnosed by a doctor.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

People who do not have severe urethral strictures are generally not eligible for treatment. A person not experiencing any of the symptoms associated with urethral stricture is not eligible for treatment. Some of the tests that may help a doctor to understand whether a person has urethral stricture or not are measuring of rate of flow of urine, cystoscopy, measuring the size of the urethral opening, analyzing the physical and chemical properties of urine to find out if there is bacteria and tests for Chlamydia and gonorrhea. A person will not be eligible for treatment if the doctor does not diagnose him after performing these tests.

Are there any side effects?

Urethral dilation can make the stricture worse over a certain period of time. The side-effects of direct vision internal urethrotomy are pain, bleeding, erectile dysfunction, urinary tract infection and even recurrent stricture. The risks associated with open urethroplasty are infection, bleeding, recurrent stricture, pain and fistula and dribbling after urination. Urinary diversion surgery has its fair share of complications as well.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

A person who has undergone surgery to treat urethral stricture will require a few weeks time before he can resume his normal physical activities. It is always useful to follow the doctor’s advice. After a surgery, a catheter is left for about a week. In some other cases, a suprapubic tube is also left in addition to the catheter.

How long does it take to recover?

The time required for a person to recover from a surgery for urethral stricture depends on a number of factors like which procedure has been performed, how long the catheter has been kept in place, the overall health status of the patient and even on the preference of the physician. Procedures like urethroplasty require a longer recovery period while other procedures like internal urethroplasty and dilation are generally outpatient procedures.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The cost of urethroplasty surgery in India can vary in between Rs 1,90,000 to Rs 3,22,000. Repeat urethrotomy and dilation to treat urinary stricture can cost more than Rs 5 lakhs.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Urethral stricture can be treated successfully if a doctor can identify the most appropriate initial treatment strategy. A proper treatment strategy will help to reduce the recurrence of this condition. A person who has undergone treatment should take extra care while using catheters and instrumentation so as to avoid developing this condition again. However, the results are not permanent as a person may develop this aiment as a result of some injury or disease.

How do you treat Urethral Stricture at home?

Some of the natural home remedies for control and management of the Urethral Stricture include the following:

  • Cranberry: Enriched with nutrients PACs, it helps to prevent bacterial infections that may affect the urinary tract.
  • Pygeum: Is a herbal ingredient obtained from tree extract. It helps to enhance the health of the bladder and also prevents signs of inflammation in the urinary system.
  • Clematis: Being a kind of homeopathic treatment, it facilitates relief from the symptoms such as painful urination and decreased amount of urine.
Summary: Urethral Stricture is an abnormal condition of the urethra which can occur in males as well as females. However, the related symptoms can be relieved by the application of home remedies such as cranberries, pygeum, and clematis.
Summary: Urethra becomes narrower in Urethral Stricture due to the inflammation of the urethral passage. It occurs more in males. It can be treated by certain medications as well as home remedies and self-care techniques. When left untreated or in case of delayed treatment, it may lead to complications like damage to the kidneys and bladder and infertility.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Clematis is a homeopathic treatment that helps to cure urethral stricture in the initial stages. Another homoeopathic medicine used to treat people who have difficulty in passing urine is the Chimaphila. Other homoeopathic medications that help to deal with the symptoms of urethral stricture are cantharis, thiosinaminum, conium, arnica and others.

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Written ByDr. Ojas Potdar MBBS,DNB GENERAL SURGERYGeneral Surgery
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