For men, the reduced abilities to adequately empty the bladder and straining while urinating must be a cause for alarm. Most of the time, this is caused by the narrowing of the urethra, a condition known as urethral stricture. This urinary obstruction can occur anywhere along the urethra right from the bladder to the tip of the penis. While females also suffer from urethral strictures, these cases are rare and can largely be attributed to the short length of their urethra. For men, the symptoms might be ignorable at the start, but over time it becomes harder to urinate as they must squeeze the bladder longer and harder. This is never comfortable and gets worse, depending on how narrow the urethral structure has grown over time. There are several causes of urethral strictures and these include;
1. Lichen Sclerosus that is also known as Balanitis Xerotica Obliterans
Scientists are yet to find the definite cause of Balanitis Xerotica Obliterans, which is often debilitating disease. Its primary symptoms are whitish discoloration of the penile skin, and most men with this condition also develop urethral stricture. Most of the time, these strictures occur at the urethral opening of the penis, but there are other instances when it can result in longer strictures.
2. Straddle injury
Straddle injuries are caused mainly by straddling hard objects causing trauma between the thighs. It is crucial to take into account that the symptoms of urethral strictures from these injuries never manifest immediately. For most men, it can take several months or years before they start experiencing symptoms, with many not recalling the incidence. The urethral structure from these injuries typically occurs in the bulbar urethra.
3. Hypospadias surgery
Boys born with hypospadias have incomplete development of the urethra, where the urethra occurs on the underside of the penis. The treatment of this condition demands surgery whereby tissue is added to the urethra to bring it to the tip of the penis. Individuals with this condition also tend to have urethral stricture development that can make the hypospadias surgery complicated.
4. Pelvic bone fracture
Injuries to the pelvic bone always have long-lasting consequences and can occur due to automobile accidents and work-related mishaps. Fractures to the pelvic bone can lead to a urethral tear that makes the patient lose the ability to urinate.
5. Urologic surgeries and insertion of foreign objects to the urethra
While these occur in rare instances, the insertion of foreign objects to the urethra also causes strictures. Undergoing some urological surgeries like penile implant surgery can equally lead to urethral strictures. Finally, in the most extreme cases, this condition can be caused by urinary tract infections though these cases are extremely rare.
Advanced diagnosis of urethral stricture
There are several ways to diagnose for urethral strictures, starting with the patient’s medical history and a physical exam. Another common procedure for a urethral stricture diagnosis is through cystoscopy, which involves the use of a flexible telescope known as a cystoscope. However, this is not the only procedure required for individuals with urethral strictures as it does not provide detailed information. As such, after identification of the condition, urologists will need to perform a urethral X-ray imaging to determine the length and precise location of the stricture. This detailed information is ultimately what urologists use to determine the right treatment for a patient. It is important for the diagnosis of urethral strictures, men must rely on centers that are well-equipped with advanced imaging equipment.
Since X-ray urethral imaging shows how short or lengthy urethral strictures are, it helps urologists to tailor the right treatment plan for the patient. As a rule, men should avoid the general assumption that all conditions require internal incisions or urethral dilations. All treatment must be centered on the results from the imaging that provides a basis for more informed decisions. Typically, the correction of this condition requires a surgical procedure, and it is equally important to know the benefits and risks of each technique. It is for this reason why men must carefully select the urologist to handle their diagnosis and treatment. The driving factor should be in finding a team of seasoned specialists who are renowned for their exemplary services and abilities to handle the complex surgical treatment procedures.