Urethral Dilation

The urethra is the tube that runs from the bladder to the exterior and allows the urine to flow from the bladder. In men, it passes through the penis. In women, the urethra is much shorter and ends just above the vagina.

What is a urethral stricture?

A urethral stricture is the narrowing (scarring) of the urethra which will have an effect on the flow of urine. The length of narrowing varies with each person. Urethral strictures mainly develop in men. Very rarely are they seen in females.

Narrowing or scarring is caused by trauma, infection or surgery.

What are the signs of a urethral stricture?

  • Slow urine flow
  • Taking a long time to pass urine
  • Difficultly passing urine
  • Feeling of incomplete emptying
  • Needing to frequently pass urine
  • ‘Spraying’ when passing urine (for meatal strictures only)

What is urethral dilation?

Urethral dilation is the widening of the urethra. This can occur in the rooms using ‘Sounds’ or in some cases, you are taught to self-dilate using a disposable Nelaton catheter.

If dilation occurs in the rooms, the Urologist performs this procedure and the frequency of dilations depends on the severity of your stricture. Your doctor will determine how often dilation needs to occur.

In some cases, urethral dilation is not an option if the stricture or narrowing is very severe. Further discussion with your doctor is essential to clarify other options.

Intermittent urethral dilation (self-catheterisation)

Intermittent urethral dilation involves passing a Nelaton catheter daily, twice daily or weekly along the length of the urethra. The frequency of dilations will be determined by your doctor (refer to intermittent catheterisation for further information on procedure.)

Urethral Meatal Dilation

Narrowing of the urethra near the tip of the penis can be managed with the regular use of a meatal dilator to keep the urethra open. The frequency of dilations will be determined by your doctor (refer to urethral meatal dilation for further information on procedure).