A urethrotomy is an operation to treat a narrowing of the urethra (tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis). The narrowing is usually caused by scar tissue forming after inflammation, an infection or injury. This can cause a slow flow of urine, often with dribbling, pain, bleeding and infection.
What are the benefits of surgery?
The benefits of surgery are a better flow of urine, improved bladder emptying and less need to get up at night. You should also be less prone to infections.
Are there any alternatives to a urethrotomy?
Other techniques used to treat a narrowing are balloon dilatation, using dilators and inserting a stent.
More complicated narrowings sometimes need open surgery.
What does the operation involve?
A urethrotomy is performed under a general or spinal anaesthetic. The operation usually takes less than half an hour.
Your surgeon will pass a special rigid fibre-optic telescope (cystoscope) into your urethra (see figure 1).
Your surgeon will make a cut in the scar tissue to make the urethra wider.
What complications can happen?
1. General complications of any operation
2. Specific complications of this operation
Retention of urine
A swollen penis
Narrowing of another part of the urethra
Making a hole in the bladder
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, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
Sometimes a narrowing can happen again.
Most men make a good recovery, with a big improvement in their symptoms. Progress is most rapid in the first six weeks but improvement can continue for many months, particularly if your bladder has become overactive.
A narrowing of the urethra can cause a slow flow of urine, often with dribbling, pain, bleeding and infection. A urethrotomy should relieve your symptoms.
Paying for your operation
Urethrotomy costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.