Most cases of urethral injuries affect men where the usual causes include straddle injuries and pelvic fractures. The urethra might also be wounded inadvertently during surgical procedures straight on the urethra or in procedures where instruments are directed into the urethra.
Occasionally, urethral injuries result from gunshot wounds. In rare instances, urethral injuries can be self-inflicted once an individual inserts a foreign object directly into the urethra.
Some injuries are limited to only bruising. Damage to the urethra can also result to tearing of the lining, resulting to the escape of urine into the tissues of the scrotum, penis, abdominal wall or perineum.
What are the symptoms?
The usual symptoms of urethral injuries include the following:
- Blood at the tip of the penis among men or urethral opening in women
- Blood-streaked urine
- Pain during urination
- Inability to urinate
- Bruising is visible in between the legs or in the penis
Other symptoms might manifest once any complications arise.
How are urethral injuries diagnosed?
Among men, a diagnosis of an injury is typically confirmed by retrograde urography where an X-ray is taken after a radiopaque dye is instilled directly into the end of the urethra.
When it comes to urethral bruises that do not cause urine leakage, the doctor might place a catheter via the urethra into the bladder for several days to drain the urine while the urethra heals.
For tears, the urine must be diverted from the urethra using a catheter that is placed directly into the bladder via a skin over the lower abdomen. The urethra is surgically repaired after other injuries have healed or after 8-12 weeks. In rare occasions, the urethral tears heal with surgery.
It is important to note that the treatment aims to prevent some complications of urethral injuries from developing. The complications that could not be prevented are treated.