If you are experiencing symptoms of a urethral stricture in Houston, Texas it is important to get help right away. This narrowing of the urethra can happen suddenly and may lead to a number of lower urinary tract symptoms and long-term complications.
Specifically, untreated strictures can lead to an inability to urinate and permanent bladder damage if not properly diagnosed and treated.
What is a Urethra?
The urethra is a tube through which urine, stored in the bladder, is passed outside the body. A urethral stricture is an abnormal area of scar or constriction along a certain length of the urethra that reduces or obstructs the flow of urine. It is more common in males as the urethra is longer, passing through the prostate gland and penis.
What are Urethral Strictures?
Urethral strictures occur due to inflammation and scar formation in the urethra. Urethral strictures can be associated with the following conditions:
- Prior infections such as Gonorrhea or Chlamydia
- Previous instrumentation in the urethra like insertion of foley catheters or scopes
- Previous surgery to the urethra, prostate, or bladder
- History of trauma to the scrotum
- History of pelvic radiation to treat cancer
What are the Symptoms of a Urethral Stricture?
Common lower urinary tract symptoms that accompany a urethral stricture include:
- Reduced urine output or inability to urinate
- Weak or split stream
- Urethral discharge
- Pain during urination; pain in the pelvic or lower abdomen
- Incontinence (inability to control urine)
- Blood in the urine
How do you Diagnose a Urethral Stricture?
When you present to the clinic with these symptoms, Dr. Dhir will review your medical history and perform a physical examination. Non-invasive urine flow is evaluated along with a post-void residual to determine if the bladder is emptying completely.
Urine tests are performed to determine the presence of infection, blood, or stone crystals. A cystoscopy (lighted tube insertion into the urethra with a camera) may be scheduled to examine the urethra and bladder to confirm an obstructing stricture.
Who are Good Candidates for Treatment of a Urethral Stricture?
All patients diagnosed with a urethral stricture must seek prompt treatment to prevent complications such as bladder damage or urinary retention. Urinary retention is a painful complication where the bladder can no longer empty – a catheter is placed to drain the bladder from the urethra or via a hole in the abdomen (suprapubic catheter).
It is important to undergo prompt testing if symptoms are present to confirm the diagnosis. Surgical solutions are readily available.
Consultation with Dr. Dhir
During your consultation at HTX Urology, your test results will be discussed, along with your medical history. Dr. Robert Dhir will develop a treatment plan for you to address your symptoms and the severity of the condition. The procedure will be described to you in detail, along with risk factors and anticipated outcomes.
What are Treatment Options for a Urethral Stricture?
The main treatment for urethral strictures is called a direct visualization internal urethrotomy (DVIU). This procedure is done under general anesthesia. First, a scope is introduced to the area of stricture. A small knife makes incisions in the scar tissue to open the area of constriction.
Alternatively, a soft narrow dilator, followed by successively larger ones, can slowly open the stricture. This is called a urethral dilation – it can sometimes be done by Dr. Dhir in the clinic with the aid of nitrous oxide laughing gas.
Finally, some recurring strictures that have failed the surgeries mentioned above may need formal reconstruction to remove the diseased portion of urethra. During a urethroplasty, a piece of the inner cheek may be used to reconstruct the urethra. In rare cases, where the urethral flow cannot be re-established, a urinary diversion is created to redirect urine outside the body through the abdominal wall or perineum (area under scrotum in front of the anus).
What is the Recovery after Surgery for a Urethral Stricture?
After your urethral stricture treatment, you may need some time for recovery. A foley catheter, or drainage tube, is kept in place for 7 days to let the treated scar heal properly.
Your healing time will depend on your body’s natural healing process and the type of procedure performed. Follow-up appointments with Dr. Dhir will be necessary, and additional tests may be conducted to ensure the stricture has not returned.
To learn more about your options for the treatment of urethral stricture in Houston, contact HTX Urology today and schedule a consultation.