What is a urethrotomy?

A urethrotomy is an operation to treat a narrowing of your urethra (tube that carries urine and semen to the tip of your penis). The narrowing is usually caused by scar tissue forming after inflammation, an infection or injury. This can cause the need to pass urine more often, sudden urges to pass urine, slow flow of urine and the feeling of not having fully emptied your bladder.

What are the benefits of surgery?

You should get a better flow of urine and improved bladder emptying, and not need to pass urine as often during the night. You should also be less prone to infections.

Are there any alternatives to a urethrotomy?

It is possible to try to treat a narrowing using balloon dilatation (inflating a baloon in your urethra) and dilators (placing small metal rods into your urethra).

More complicated narrowings sometimes need open surgery using plastic-surgery techniques.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general or spinal anaesthetic. The operation usually takes less than 30 minutes.

Your surgeon will pass a rigid telescope (cystoscope) into your urethra to examine the narrowing (see figure 1).

Your surgeon will make a cut in the scar tissue to make your urethra wider.

What complications can happen?

1 General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection

2 Specific complications

  • Difficulty passing urine
  • A swollen penis
  • Narrowing of another part of your urethra

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day or the day after.

You should be able to return to work after a few days.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Sometimes a narrowing can happen again.

Most men make a good recovery, with a large improvement in their symptoms.

Summary

A narrowing of your urethra can cause a slow flow of urine, often with dribbling, pain, bleeding and infection. A urethrotomy should relieve your symptoms.

Acknowledgements

Author: Mr John Lemberger FRCS

Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com


This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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