When a scar from swelling, injury or infection blocks or slows the flow of urine in the urethra, it is called a urethral stricture. A urethral stricture is scar tissue that forms in the urethra, the tube which drains urine from the bladder. This scar tissue can form due to trauma, such as falling off of a bike, or from prior urologic procedures, urinary infections, and many other causes. Some strictures cause no symptoms, while others make it difficult or impossible to urinate. Strictures can be managed with dilation or incision, but the best outcomes follow urethroplasty, which is the definitive management of a urethral stricture.
Urethral stricture can cause numerous symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms could be pain or burning during urination, inability to control urination, pain in the pelvic or lower abdominal area, urethral discharge, bloody or dark urine, UTIs and more.
There are several tests to determine if you have a urethral stricture including a physical examination, urethral imaging (X-rays or ultrasound), urethroscopy and retrograde urethrogram.
Treatment will depend on the severity of the condition – the size of the blockage and how much scar tissue is involved. A non-surgical option is the use of a dilator to increase the width of the urethra slowly over time. Surgical procedures such as an open urethroplasty or urine flow diversion may be an option for severe cases.