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What are Urethral Strictures?

The urethra is an important part of the urinary tract and primarily serves to empty the bladder of urine in men and women.  A urethral stricture is scar tissue in the urethra that can block the flow of urine.  Urethral strictures are more common in men because their urethras are longer than in women and are more susceptible to disease or injury.  Urethral stricture is usually not a congenital (born with) problem and women rarely develop urethral strictures.


Urethral strictures are more common in men.

Causes of Urethral Stricture Disease

Urethral stricture disease can be caused by:

  • Trauma
  • Chronic inflammation from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Frequent instrumentations for minimally invasive urologic surgery
  • Radiation for prostate cancer treatment

Additionally, some men present with an idiopathic form of urethral stricture disease.  For example, bicycle straddle injury can lead to urethral strictures in men. Repeated treatments with instruments for removal of kidney stones and trauma from difficult urinary catheterization can also cause urethral strictures in men.


  • Slow urine stream
  • Complete inability to urinate
  • Painful urination
  • Spraying of the urine stream
  • Hematuria or blood in the urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections in men
  • Urethral discharge

It’s important to note that these are common symptoms for other medical conditions and should be brought to the attention of your doctor for a full evaluation to determine the cause.


Your doctor will first perform a complete physical exam as well as recommend and perform a urethral imaging study such as X-ray or ultrasound of the urethra. Other tests may include:

  • Retrograde Urethrogram – This test allows the urologist to visualize any structural abnormalities in the urethra including narrowed areas or blockages.  It is very important to document the location and size of the stricture and retrograde urethrogram serves as a roadmap for the urologist for surgical planning.  This is a diagnostics procedure only and does not involve cutting or suturing. Your doctor will inject a dye into the urethra and x-rays are taken to view the entire urethra.
  • Urethroscopy – A small, flexible telescope is placed into the urethra. This study allows your doctor to see inside the urethra from the tip of the penis to the location of the stricture.

Treatment for Urethral Strictures

Chesapeake Urology specialists offer several treatment options for urethral stricture disease.

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