Urethral stricture

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

The urethra is the tube through which fluid moves from the bladder to the external urethral orifice. A female’s urethra is short having a length of 2 inches; while a male’s urethra is 8 inches long. While females use their urethra for just urination, males used theirs for both urination and ejaculation.

Urethral stricture is an abnormal narrowing of the urethra. It is commonly caused by a trauma but less common causes are infections and they could be congenital. It can also be caused by pressure from a growing tumor near the urethra. In an attempt to repair a damage caused by an injury, the body creates a build up of scar tissue in the tract resulting in a narrowing or closure of the passage causing a functional obstruction to the flow of urine.

Symptoms of urethral strictures include;

·         Blood in the urine/semen

·         Frequent and painful urination

·         Loss of bladder control

·         Slow urine stream may develop

·         Urinary retention

Physical exam may show discharge from the urethra, enlarged bladder, prostate and or lymph nodes. The penis may be inflamed.

Currently, there are no known drug treatments for this disease. The urethra may be widened using dilators. The diseased area in the urethra may be removed through surgery and the urethra rebuilt. Bioengineered urethral tissue is a new mode of treatment developed by Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine. The bioengineered human urethra is planted on bioabsorbable scaffolding in the affected areas. A urinary diversion may also be done; draining the bladder through the walls of the abdomen using catheter. Patients should be constantly counselled and educated as this is an important aspect of the successful resolution and continued care for stricture patients.

Total obstruction of urine flow will require immediate treatment to prevent permanent bladder or kidney damage. Practising safer-sex may decrease the risk of acquiring sexual transmitted infections which exposes one to urethral stricture. Avoid injury to the urethra and pelvis.

It is also important to note that strictures may develop several years after the injury that prompted it. The physician and patient should walk as far back in memory as possible.





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