Treatment of male urethral strictures - possible reasons for the use of repeated dilatation or internal urethrotomy rather than urethroplasty
Objective. To investigate the possible reasons for repeated urethral dilatation or optical internal urethrotomy rather than urethroplasty in the treatment of male urethral strictures. Patients and methods. Men referred to the stricture clinic of our institution during the period April 2007 - March 2008 were reviewed and the operative urological procedures performed in the same period were analysed. Statistical analysis was performed using Student’s t-test and Fisher’s exact test (p<0.05 statistically significant). Results. The mean age of the 125 men was 49.9 years (range 12.8 - 93.4 years). Previous stricture treatment had been given 1 - 2, 3 - 4 and 5 - 6 times in 52%, 32% and 12% of patients, respectively (4% had not undergone treatment). In these groups, previous treatment was dilatation in 70%, 76% and 72%, urethrotomy in 26%, 15% and 28%, and urethroplasty in 4%, 9% and 0, respectively. The group with 5 - 6 compared with 1 - 2 previous treatments was significantly older (mean age 60.2 v. 46.6 years) and had a significantly greater proportion with underlying co-morbidities (80% v. 52%). The group that had undergone urethroplasty compared with 5 - 6 repeated dilatations or urethrotomies was significantly younger (mean age 48.2 v. 60.2 years) with a lower prevalence of co-morbidities (47% v. 80%). During the study period urethroplasty was performed in 16 (2%) of 821 inpatients, whereas 55 men were seen who had undergone ≥3 previous procedures, indicating that urethroplasty was performed in less than one-third of cases in which it would have been the optimal treatment. Owing to limited theatre time, procedures indicated for malignancy, urolithiasis, renal failure and congenital anomalies were performed more often than urethroplasty. Conclusions. Factors that possibly influenced the decision to perform repeated urethrotomy or dilatation instead of urethroplasty were limited theatre time, increased patient age and the presence of underlying co-morbidities.