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Surgical tips and tricks during urethroplasty for bulbar urethral strictures focusing on accurate localisation of the stricture: results from a tertiary centre.

European Urology 2015 April
BACKGROUND: There are several techniques for characterising and localising an anterior urethral stricture, such as preoperative retrograde urethrography, ultrasonography, and endoscopy. However, these techniques have some limitations. The final determinant is intraoperative assessment, as this yields the most information and defines what surgical procedure is undertaken.

OBJECTIVE: We present our intraoperative approach for localising and operating on a urethral stricture, with assessment of outcomes.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: A retrospective review of urethral strictures operated was carried out. All patients had a bulbar or bulbomembranous urethroplasty. All patients were referred to a tertiary centre and operated on by two urethral reconstructive surgeons.

SURGICAL PROCEDURE: Intraoperative identification of the stricture was performed by cystoscopy. The location of the stricture is demonstrated externally on the urethra by external transillumination of the urethra and comparison with the endoscopic picture. This is combined with accurate placement of a suture through the urethra, at the distal extremity of the stricture, verified precisely by endoscopy.

OUTCOME MEASURES AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Clinical data were collected in a dedicated database. Intraoperative details and postoperative follow-up data for each patient were recorded and analysed. A descriptive data analysis was performed.

RESULTS AND LIMITATIONS: A representative group of 35 male patients who had surgery for bulbar stricture was randomly selected from January 2010 to December 2013. Mean follow-up was 13.8 mo (range 2-43 mo). Mean age was 46.5 yr (range 17-70 yr). Three patients had undergone previous urethroplasty and 26 patients had previous urethrotomy or dilatation. All patients had preoperative retrograde urethrography and most (85.7%) had endoscopic assessment. The majority of patients (48.6%) had a stricture length of >2-7 cm and 45.7% of patients required a buccal mucosa graft. There were no intraoperative complications. Postoperatively, two patients had a urinary tract infection. All patients were assessed postoperatively via flexible cystoscopy. Only one patient required subsequent optical urethrotomy for recurrence.

CONCLUSIONS: Our intraoperative strategy for anterior urethral stricture assessment provides a clear stepwise approach, regardless of the type of urethroplasty eventually chosen (anastomotic disconnected or Heineke-Mikulicz) or augmentation (dorsal, ventral, or augmented roof strip). It is useful in all cases by allowing precise localisation of the incision in the urethra, whether the stricture is simple or complex.

PATIENT SUMMARY: We studied the treatment of bulbar urethral strictures with different types of urethroplasty, using a specific technique to identify and characterise the length of the stricture. This technique is effective, precise, and applicable to all patients undergoing urethroplasty for bulbar urethral stricture.

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