The urethra is the thin tube that carries urine out of your body from your bladder. A stricture occurs when inflammation, scarring, or other issues cause narrowing of the urethra that restricts the flow of urine.
In females, the urethra travels a straight and relatively short course from the bladder. The male urethra needs about 10 inches to travel from the bladder to tip of the penis. This somewhat winding journey accounts for the much greater potential for injury and significantly higher incidence of urethral stricture in men versus women.
Sometimes no underlying reason is identified, but common causes for narrowing of the urethra include:
Symptoms of urethral stricture can mimic many other urinary system issues and require a detailed exam that often includes diagnostic studies to accurately diagnose. These symptoms can include:
Doctors separate male urethral strictures according to their location. A posterior urethral stricture, for instance, occurs in the first one to two inches of where the urethra leaves the bladder. Strictures in this area are often caused by pelvic fractures and can lead to a complete cut or separation of the urethra, which prevents any urine from passing.
Anterior strictures develop in the last 9-10 inches of the urethra and can occur with a straddle injury sustained during a fall where the legs land on either side of an object. Direct trauma to the penis or urinary catheterization can also lead to anterior strictures.
Urethroplasty is a complex surgical procedure during which Dr. Coutinho removes the damaged or narrowed portion of your urethra and constructs a replacement. Depending on the nature of your stricture, he may use skin grafts taken from your buccal mucosa to recreate your urethra.
The buccal mucosa is the tissue that lines your inner cheeks and floor of your mouth. Grafts taken from this region often have a higher success rate than other types of skin grafts used for urethroplasty.
Dr. Karl Coutinho is considered an in-network provider with the following insurance plans. This is not a complete list, if you do not see your plan listed please contact our office to verify your benefits.