REVIEW
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Simple urethral dilatation, endoscopic urethrotomy, and urethroplasty for urethral stricture disease in adult men.

BACKGROUND: Strictures of the urethra are the commonest cause of obstructed micturition in younger men and frequently recur after initial treatment. Standard treatment comprises internal widening of the strictured area by simple dilatation or by telescope-guided internal cutting (optical urethrotomy), but these interventions are associated with a high failure rate requiring repeated treatment. The alternative option of open urethroplasty whereby the urethral lumen is permanently widened by removal or grafting of the strictured segment is less likely to fail but requires greater expertise. Improved choice of graft material and shortened hospital stay suggest urethroplasty may be under used. The extent and quality of evidence guiding treatment choice for this condition is uncertain.

OBJECTIVES: To determine which is the best surgical treatment for male urethral stricture disease taking into account relative efficacy, adverse event rates and cost-effectiveness.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Incontinence Group Specialised Register (searched 26 March 2009), CENTRAL (2009, Issue 1), MEDLINE (January 1950 to March 2009), EMBASE (January 1980 to March 2009), OpenSIGLE (searched 26 March 2009), clinical trials registries and reference lists of relevant articles.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included publications reporting data from randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials comparing the effectiveness of dilatation, urethrotomy and urethroplasty in the treatment of adult men with urethral stricture disease.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors evaluated trials for appropriateness for inclusion and methodological quality. Data extraction was performed using predetermined criteria. Analyses were carried out using the Cochrane Review Manager software; RevMan 5.

MAIN RESULTS: Two randomised trials were identified. One trial compared the outcome of surgical urethral dilatation and optical urethrotomy in 210 adult men with urethral stricture disease. No significant difference was found in the proportion of men being stricture free at three years or in the median time to recurrence. The second trial compared the outcome of urethrotomy and urethroplasty in 50 men with traumatic stricture of the posterior urethra following pelvic fracture injury. After two years 16 of 25 (64%) men initially treated by urethrotomy required continued self-dilatation or further surgery for stricture recurrence compared to 6 of 25 (24%) men treated by primary urethroplasty. There was insufficient data to perform meta-analysis or to reliably determine effect size.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: There were insufficient data to determine which intervention is best for urethral stricture disease in terms of balancing efficacy, adverse effects and costs. Well designed, adequately powered multi-centre trials are needed to answer relevant clinical questions regarding treatment of men with urethral strictures.

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