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When a doctor says you need to have your urethra medically stretched, it can be an unsettling and stressful situation. The urethra can become inflamed and sensitive and the idea of having a medical procedure on it can be scary. Understanding the most common cause of the need for male urethra stretching, and how it is done, can help alleviate your concerns 1.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
The most common medical reason for men having the urethra surgically stretched is a urethral stricture. A urethral stricture occurs when the urethra, a tube responsible for carrying urine from the bladder out of the body, is abnormally narrowed. When this happens it can be difficult or impossible for urine to pass from the bladder, setting the stage for urine to back up to the prostate, where an infection can develop.
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The National Institute of Health reports that several things that can create a male urethral stricture. Some people get them from a previous inflammation or infection. Others have had surgery on their urethra in the past, for conditions such as hypospadia, which can also create a stricture. An enlarged tumor can put pressure on the urethra, causing it to narrow or an injury may create a urethral stricture to occur.
In addition to physically caused reasons, a urethral stricture can also be caused by having a history of sexually transmitted diseases, having chronic prostate problems including hyperplasia or having an instrument such as a catheter placed into the urethra. Occasionally, strictures are present at birth, though it is rare.
- The National Institute of Health reports that several things that can create a male urethral stricture.
- Others have had surgery on their urethra in the past, for conditions such as hypospadia, which can also create a stricture.
The National Health Institute lists urine that is dark or bloody as one of the most common symptoms of a urethral stricture. If you have a reduced output of urine, urethral discharge or you are unable to urinate at all, you may be suffering from a urethral stricture. Other symptoms include pelvic pain, stomach pain, swelling of the penis, or urine spraying instead of streaming. A surgical stretching of the urethra can alleviate these symptoms by alleviating the urethral width 1.
- The National Health Institute lists urine that is dark or bloody as one of the most common symptoms of a urethral stricture.
- If you have a reduced output of urine, urethral discharge or you are unable to urinate at all, you may be suffering from a urethral stricture.
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Your doctor will diagnose your urethral stricture using several methods. A physical exam may reveal signs of its existence through enlarged lymph nodes that are tender to the touch, a hardness that can be felt on the underside of your penis, a redness or swelling of your penis or a large and tender prostate. Some cases of urethra stricture do not demonstrate any visible signs, and are diagnosed using a cystoscopy, a culture of your urine and a urethrogram.
Your urethral stretching procedure may be completed during the cystoscopy. At that time your doctor will widen the urethra by using a thin instrument that stretches the urethra. A local anesthesia is used for this procedure. Once the stretching is complete, the doctor may choose to instruct you on how to treat it yourself at home using the same methods.
The urethra may be widened (dilated) during cystoscopy by inserting a thin instrument to stretch the urethra while you are under local anesthesia. If this method is not possible or successful, the doctor may suggest a surgical procedure in which the diseased part of the urethra will be removed and replaces it with tissue from the body.
- Your urethral stretching procedure may be completed during the cystoscopy.
- The urethra may be widened (dilated) during cystoscopy by inserting a thin instrument to stretch the urethra while you are under local anesthesia.
The Mayo Clinic reports that prognosis for urethral stricture stretching treatment is excellent, however the scar tissue tends to reappear with time and additional stretching treatments may be needed.
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- More about urethra stretching needs
- Information about urethral strictures/stretching
- Cleveland Clinic. Urethral stricture in men. Updated July 23, 2014.
- Alwaal A, Blaschko SD, McAninch JW, Breyer BN. Epidemiology of urethral strictures. Transl Androl Urol. 2014;3(2):209-213. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2223-4683.2014.04.07
- MedlinePlus. Urethral stricture. Updated July 17, 2018.
- Tritschler S, Roosen A, Füllhase C, Stief CG, Rübben H. Urethral stricture: etiology, investigation and treatments. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2013;110(13):220-6. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2013.0220
- Chen ML, Correa AF, Santucci RA. Urethral strictures and stenoses caused by prostate therapy. Rev Urol. 2016;18(2):90-102. doi:10.3909/riu0685
- MedlinePlus. Urinary tract infections. Updated April 8, 2019.
- Sharp VJ, Barnes KT, Erickson BA. Assessment of asymptomatic microscopic hematuria in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2013 Dec 1;88(11):747-754.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Urinary retention. Updated August 2014.
- Kulkarni SB, Joglekar O, Alkandari M, Joshi PM. Management of post TURP strictures. World J Urol. 2019;37(4):589-594. doi:10.1007/s00345-018-2498-x
- Smith TG. Current management of urethral stricture disease. Indian J Urol. 2016;32(1):27-33. doi:10.4103/0970-1591.173108
- Manikandan R, Dorairajan LN, Kumar S. Current concepts in the management of pelvic fracture urethral distraction defects. Indian J Urol. 2011;27(3):385-91. doi:10.4103/0970-1591.85444
- Chen H, Zou LL, Dong CJ, Li T, Dong ZQ. Advanced primary urethral cancer: a case report. J Med Case Rep. 2019;13(1):365. doi:10.1186/s13256-019-2253-y
- Mouafo Tambo FF, Fossi Kamga G, Kamadjou C, et al. Challenges in the diagnosis and management of acquired nontraumatic urethral strictures in boys in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Case Rep Urol. 2016;2016:2586458. doi:10.1155/2016/2586458
- Yürük E, Yentur S, Çakır ÖO, Ertaş K, Şerefoğlu EC, Semerciöz A. Catheter dwell time and diameter affect the recurrence rates after internal urethrotomy. Turk J Urol. 2016;42(3):184-9. doi:10.5152/tud.2016.90490
- Cleveland Clinic. Urethral stricture in men: diagnosis and tests. Updated July 23, 2014.
- Pal DK, Kumar S, Ghosh B. Direct visual internal urethrotomy: is it a durable treatment option? Urol Ann. 2017;9(1):18-22. doi:10.4103/0974-7796.198835
- Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Urethroplasty.
- Washington University School of Medicine. Urethral stricture evaluation.
- Gallegos MA, Santucci RA. Advances in urethral stricture management. F1000Res. 2016;5:2913. doi:10.12688/f1000research.9741.1
- Cleveland Clinic. Urethral stricture in men: management and treatment. Updated July 23, 2014.
- Urethral Strictures. Urethral Care Foundation.
Candace Webb has been writing professionally since 1989. She has worked as a full-time journalist as well as contributed to metropolitan newspapers including the "Tennessean." She has also worked on staff as an associate editor at the "Nashville Parent" magazine. Webb holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a minor in business from San Jose State University.