What is the place of internal urethrotomy in the treatment of urethral stricture disease?
As a treatment for male urethral stricture, internal urethrotomy (IU) has the advantages of ease, simplicity, speed and short convalescence. Various modifications of the single cold-knife incision in the 12 o'clock position have been proposed, but there are no prospective, randomized studies to prove their claims of greater efficacy. IU can be performed as an outpatient procedure using local anesthesia, with an indwelling silicone catheter for 3 days after the procedure. Complications of IU are usually minor, including infection and hemorrhage. The reported success rate of IU varies, mainly because of differences in the definition of success and the duration of follow-up. Strictures can recur, usually within 3-12 months of IU. There are several known risk factors for recurrence: a previous IU, penile and membranous strictures, long (>2 cm) and multiple strictures, untreated perioperative urinary infection and extensive periurethral spongiofibrosis. Repeated IU might be useful in patients who have a stricture recurrence more than 6 months after the initial procedure, but repeat IU offers no long-term cure after a third IU, or if a stricture recurs within 3 months of the first IU. Such patients should be offered urethroplasty. Repeated IU followed by long-term self-dilation is an alternative option for men with severe comorbidity and limited life expectancy, or those who have failed previous urethroplasty. Overall, IU has a lower success rate (±60%) than urethroplasty (±80 -90%), but if used for selected strictures, the success rate of IU could approach that of urethroplasty. © 2005 Nature Publishing Group.