Urethral Stricture

  • Medical Author: Pamela I. Ellsworth, MD
  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

What is a urethral stricture?

Urethral stricture refers to any narrowing of the urethra for any reason whether or not it actually impacts the flow of urine out of the bladder.

Urethral stricture is significantly more common in men and boys compared to women and girls. This condition is considered rare in females.

What are the risk factors and causes of urethral strictures?

Any inflammation of urethra can result in scarring, which then can lead to a stricture or a narrowing of the urethra. Trauma, infection, tumors, surgeries, or any other cause of scarring may lead to urethral narrowing or stricture. Mechanical narrowing of the urethra without scar formation (developmental causes or prostate enlargement) can also narrow the urethra.

The following are common causes of scarring or narrowing of the urethra:

  • Trauma from injury or accidents with damage to the urethra or bladder (for example, falling on a frame of a bicycle between the legs, or a car accident), straddle injuries
  • Pelvic injury (fracture of the pelvic bones) or trauma
  • Previous procedures involving the urethra (urinary catheters, surgeries, cystoscopy)
  • Previous prostate surgery (TURP or transurethral resection of the prostate for prostate enlargement, radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer)
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Cancer of the urethra (rare)
  • Infections of the urethra (sexually transmitted diseases or STDs, urethritis, gonorrhea, chlamydia)
  • Prostate infection or inflammation (prostatitis)
  • Previous hypospadias surgery (a congenital birth defect in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis instead of the tip)
  • Congenital malformations of the urethra, which rarely can cause urethral stricture in children
  • Brachytherapy (placement of radiation seeds into the prostate) for prostate cancer
  • Diaper-related irritation to the urethral meatus (opening at the tip of the penis)
  • Inflammatory conditions such as lichen sclerosus, Reiter's syndrome

According to one study, about one-half of causes of urethral stricture are from medical procedures and manipulation of the urethra or nearby structures (surgeries, catheter insertion, etc.). In about one-third of cases, no identifiable cause was found.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/29/2016

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