What is Meatal Stenosis?

Nat Robinson

Meatal stenosis, sometimes called urethral stricture, is a medical condition which causes the opening of the urethra to become abnormally narrow. The urethra is the tube which transports urine out of the body. When urine fills the bladder, it then exits the organ and is expelled through the urethra. As the urethra's healthiness is vital to the wellness of the urinary system, a narrowing due to meatal stenosis can cause a number of problems. For many people the most prominent problem can be difficulties with urination.

A urinalysis is typically used to help diagnose meatal stenosis.
A urinalysis is typically used to help diagnose meatal stenosis.

Although a person of any gender can get meatal stenosis, it is most frequent in males. Some baby boys may get this condition after undergoing a circumcision. As the urethral opening or meatus is located near the top of the male sex organ, a surgery such as a circumcision may cause a great deal of irritation, possibly leading to urethral narrowing. There are other conditions which may inflame the urethra and cause this condition, such as frequent urinary infections and using urinary catheters often. Additionally, meatal stenosis may be congenital and present at birth.

Meatal stenosis results in an abnormally narrow opening to the urethra.
Meatal stenosis results in an abnormally narrow opening to the urethra.

Most people with meatal stenosis will notice some type of change in their urination patterns. It may become challenging to urinate. Frequently, a person with this condition may experience pain or burning while urinating and it may become difficult to fully empty the bladder. In some cases, there may be bed-wetting, a urethral discharge and urine may become bloody or darker than usual. Sometimes, there may be pain in the pelvic area as well.

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Dark or bloody urine is a symptom of meatal stenosis.
Dark or bloody urine is a symptom of meatal stenosis.

Often, a physical examination may reveal a suspicion of meatal stenosis. On occasion, the abnormality may cause swelling in the genital area, which can be seen upon inspection. Diagnostic tests will generally include a urine analysis and blood tests. Another popular test for this condition is a cystoscopy. With this procedure, doctors insert a thin tube or cystoscope into the urethra and up into the bladder to get an elaborate view of the organs.

Females with meatal stenosis will usually undergo a medical procedure to have their urethra dilated under local or general anesthesia. To treat this condition in males, a procedure known as a meatoplasty may be performed. During a metoplasty, the meatus or opening of the urethra is widened. The procedure may be carried out in a health care professional's office, outpatient clinic or hospital. The symptoms of this urethral abnormality are usually completely alleviated after undergoing either one of these medical treatments.

Long term use of a catheter may cause meatal stenosis.
Long term use of a catheter may cause meatal stenosis.

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