Urethral Stricture

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A urethral stricture occurs when your urethra narrows due to a buildup of scar tissue, making it harder to urinate. It can be caused by trauma, such as an injury or accident, surgery, radiation therapy, or an enlarged prostate. At Duke, we often help people with urethral stricture who have been treated unsuccessfully elsewhere. Our urologists are experts in treatment options that can help you regain your urination function.

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Testing for Urethral Stricture

Your urologist will conduct a physical exam and recommend one or more of the following tests to diagnose and determine the extent of your stricture.


A urine test checks the appearance and acidity of your urine and looks for any abnormal substances, like blood or too much protein. It can identify or rule out a bladder infection as the cause of your symptoms.

Post-Void Residual Urine Test

After you urinate, your urologist uses an ultrasound to see how much urine is left in your bladder. This can indicate whether a blockage is present.

Retrograde Urethrogram

This test determines the narrowness and length of your stricture. Your doctor injects a dye into your urethra until it reaches your bladder. An X-ray shows the extent of the stricture.


Your urologist will place a long, thin camera through your urethra to see the inside of your prostate and bladder. This is used to assess how much the prostate is blocking urine flow and the effects it is having on the bladder.

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Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Urethral Stricture Treatments

Our solutions for urethral structure include minimally invasive options that directly treat the cause of your problem. All of our urologists are board certified and have undergone years of advanced training on these kinds of treatments.

Suprapubic Urinary Catheter

A thin tube called a catheter is inserted into the bladder through your abdomen and used to drain urine from the bladder. Your doctor will remove it after several weeks to see if normal flow has returned through your urethra.

Urethral Dilation

Your urologist will use a catheter to place a dilator, a thin tube, or a balloon -- devices that stretch a small section of your narrowed urethra. This allows urine to flow more freely. If the stricture happens too often, your urologist may teach you how to insert a catheter into the urethra yourself. The procedure can help with urinary problems but doesn’t correct your stricture. Dilation is typically repeated by your doctor in a Duke clinic or by you at home. 


A thin, lighted tube is inserted into the urethra to reach your urethral stricture. A blade or laser at the end of the tube cuts the scar tissue to create a passageway. A catheter may be placed into the urethra temporarily to assist in the healing process.


If your urethra has become too narrow because of scarring from urethral stricture, this outpatient surgery will enlarge or replace that section. It may require two operations to complete, depending on the severity and length of the stricture.

Conditions Related to Urethral Stricture

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (Enlarged Prostate)
In some cases, a urethral stricture and enlarged prostate are related. The stricture can force a backflow of urine into the prostate and cause inflammation. Your urologist will test the strength of your urinary flow to diagnose your condition.

Male Incontinence
A urethral stricture impacts the bladder and can make urination difficult and sometimes causes leakage. Testing your urine and how pressure builds in your bladder can help your urologist determine any connection.

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Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

This page was medically reviewed on 04/23/2024 by