Merck Manual

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Urethral Stricture


Patrick J. Shenot

, MD, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

Reviewed/Revised May 2021 | Modified Sep 2022
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Urethral stricture is scarring that obstructs the anterior urethral lumen.

Urethral stricture can be

Common causes include

Trauma, the most common cause, may result from a straddle injury or, occasionally, an iatrogenic injury (eg, after traumatic endoscopy or catheterization).

Less common causes include

General reference

Symptoms and Signs of Urethral Stricture

Diagnosis of Urethral Stricture

  • Retrograde urethrography or cystoscopy

Urethral stricture is usually suspected when urethral catheterization is difficult. It should also be considered in males with gradual onset of obstructive symptoms or recurrent urinary tract infections, particularly if they have risk factors or are young.

Diagnosis of urethral stricture is usually confirmed by retrograde urethrography or cystoscopy.

Treatment of Urethral Stricture

  • Dilation or internal urethrotomy

  • Self-catheterization

  • Open urethroplasty

Treatment is determined by the type of urethral obstruction. Often, dilation or endoscopy (internal urethrotomy) is done. However, with certain types of strictures (eg, complicated strictures, such as very long or recurrent strictures or strictures that persist despite initial treatments), dilation and endoscopy should be avoided; daily self-catheterization may be indicated.

Open urethroplasty may be indicated if the stricture is localized and causes recurrent problems.

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NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
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