A urethral stricture is a narrowing or blockage in the urethra which can cause bothersome urinary symptoms such as incomplete bladder emptying, weak urinary stream, or infections.
Strictures can result from prior infection, especially sexually transmitted diseases like Gonorrhea or Chlamydia, prior injury such as trauma from a car or bike accident, or from prior surgery.
The initial treatment for a stricture usually involves dilation where a guidewire is placed into the bladder and then progressively larger urethral dilators are passed to open up the narrowed area.
If this fails, an endoscopic procedure known as a urethrotomy can be performed where a scope is placed into the urethra and under direct vision, the stricture is cut with a knife of laser.
If this fails or if the stricture is too long, a larger operation called a urethroplasty can be performed where the narrowed area is cut out and the two healthy ends are sewn back together. For very long strictures, occasionally tissue grafts, often from the cheek lining, are used to bridge the gap during repair.