The urethra is a tubelike structure that carries urine from the bladder and out the penis. It starts at the opening of the bladder and traverses the entire length of the penis. Urethral stricture disease is a narrowing of this tube. It's often the result of injury or prior infection and can develop slowly over years through incremental scarring.
Symptoms progress as the tube becomes narrowed. They may include pain with urination, weak urine flow and an inability to empty the bladder.
There are no medical therapies to effectively treat urethral strictures, but it can be treated surgically.
In very mild cases, surgeons may be able to open the stricture either by enlarging the urethra (urethral dilation) or by cutting through scar tissue with a blade or laser (urethrotomy). These procedures can be done endoscopically, using a tiny camera and instruments, but are still usually done under general anesthesia.
The gold standard and definitive therapy for urethral stricture disease is to remove the scarred segment and join the healthy ends together. If the stricture is too long for this procedure, surgeons can instead use advanced reconstructive techniques to repair the scarred segment. The tube may be repaired using local skin or with a graft harvested from the inner cheek (called "buccal mucosa grafting").