What is a urethral stricture?

A urethral stricture is a scar that develops in the urethra (the tube that runs from the bladder to the end of the penis, through which urine passes). The stricture narrows the urethra and can lead to problems with urination, including a complete inability to urinate.

What is a rectourethral fistula?

A rectourethral fistula is an abnormal hole that forms between the urethra and the rectum. In patients who have a rectourethral fistula, problems can include passage of urine through the rectum, repeated infections, and swelling and discomfort in the pelvis.

What are the causes of a urethral stricture?

Most strictures come about because of an accident, such as a straddle injury. Other causes include:

  • Having a urethral catheter in place
  • A fractured pelvis
  • A rash-like condition of the penis known as lichen sclerosus

Some men are born with a condition known as hypospadias, in which the urethra doesn’t develop properly. In babies born with hypospadias, the opening of the urethra forms in a location other than the tip of the penis. This location may be on the shaft of the penis or on the scrotum. Boys can have surgery to correct hypospadias, but may develop urethral strictures later in life.

What are the symptoms of a urethral stricture?

If a man has a urethral stricture, he may have some of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling in the penis
  • Dark or bloody urine
  • Frequent urination or a strong urge to urinate
  • Pain upon urinating
  • Lack of bladder control
  • Urethral discharge
  • Blood in the semen
  • Pain in the pelvic area

What causes a rectourethral fistula?

Some patients who have surgery and/or radiation therapy for prostate or rectal cancer can develop a rectourethral fistula.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/08/2016.


  • Medline Plus. Urethral stricture Accessed 4/22/2016.
  • Urology Care Foundation. What is Urethral Stricture Disease? Accessed 4/22/2016.
  • Mori, RL, Klein, EA, and Angermeier, KW: Intestinourinary Fistulas. Glenn’s Urologic Surgery, 8th ed. Edited by TE Keane and SD Graham, Jr. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer, pp. 202-209, 2016.

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