Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses

The urethra is the connecting tube between the bladder and tip of the penis that allows for the transport of urine out of the body.

A urethral stricture is the narrowing of the urethra that results in the obstruction of urine outflow, leaving variable amounts of urine in the bladder. A stricture is a scar of the urethra and its surrounding tissue. It can occur anywhere between the bladder and the tip of the penis with a length varying from a few millimeters to several centimeters.

As mentioned above, most strictures are a result of trauma or cancer therapy, especially radiation for prostate and rectal cancers. A urethral trauma can be an emergent event, such as a straddle injury, or trauma may be subtle and occur over the course of many years, such as frequent bicycle rides.

Strictures due to radiation are among the most complex as they are located close to the treated prostate and are often surrounded tissue that has been damaged by radiation. Surgeon expertise and experience is essential given the complicated nature of this type of repair.

The mainstay of diagnosing a stricture is with an X-ray during which dye is injected into the urethra at the tip of the penis. Alternatively or in addition, the insertion of a small camera through the urethra can help identify the location and severity of the stricture.