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Urethral Dilatation

Why Urethral dilatation?

The urethra can become narrowed at various points along its length for various reasons, and may need dilatation (stretching) to improve urine flow.

How is this performed?

This procedure can be done under local or general anaesthetic. For local anaesthetic, a small amount of local anaesthetic jelly is applied, and the urethra is gently stretched with metal dilators. This can be uncomfortable, so the operation can be also be performed under general anaesthetic; this can allow a greater stretch as there is no discomfort during the procedure.

After the initial dilatation, it is common to need occasional repeat dilatations. Sometimes, patients themselves can do this, as a form of intermittent self-catheterisation (see ISC for males / ISC for females).

Occasionally, if the narrowing of the urethra is severe, a slightly more invasive procedure may need to be performed at the time, such as a urethrotomy with a laser, or with an endoscopic knife.

After the operation

You will be able to go home the same day. It is usual to experience some mild discomfort afterwards, but this should pass very quickly.

What are the risks of this operation?

All procedures have the potential for side effects. Although these complications are well recognised, the majority of patients do not have problems after a procedure.

Risks of the anaesthetic need to be discussed with the anaesthetist who will be looking after you during the operation, and who will visit you beforehand. 

There are specific risks with this surgical procedure, and these will be discussed with you before your procedure. As a guide to complement that one-on-one discussion with your surgeon, these include:


  • Mild discomfort, usually with urination. This should pass quickly.
  • Occasionally, patients have a small amount of bleeding afterwards, which should pass very quickly.
  • In the long term, the dilatation may need to be repeated. In some circumstances, a definitive procedure such as a urethroplasty may need to be done at a later date.


  • Infection in the urine requiring antibiotics
  • A longer period of bleeding requiring a period of catheterisation
  • The need for a temporary suprapubic catheter


This information is intended as an educational guide only, and is here to help you as an additional source of information, along with a consultation from your urologist. The information does not apply to all patients.

Not all potential complications are listed, and you must talk to your urologist about the complications specific to your situation.


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  • Nick Brook Urology
    Kimberley House
    89 Strangways Tce,
    North Adelaide,
    Adelaide SA 5006
  • 08 8463 2500
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