Direct visual internal urethrotomy (DVIU) followed by intermittent self-dilatation (ISD) is the most commonly performed intervention for urethral stricture disease. The objective of this paper is to outline the current scientific evidence supporting this approach for its use in the management of anterior urethral strictures.
A Pubmed database search was performed with the words “internal urethrotomy” and “internal urethrotomy” self-catheterization. All papers dealing with this subject were scrutinized. Cross-references from the retrieved articles were also viewed. Only English language articles were included in the analyses. Studies were analyzed to identify predictors for success for DVIU.
Initial studies showed excellent outcomes with DVIU with success rates ranging from 50% to 85%. However, these studies reported only short-term results. Recent studies with longer followup have shown a poor success rate ranging from 6% to 28%. Stricture length and degree of fibrosis (luminal narrowing) were found to be predictors of response. Repeated urethrotomies were associated with poor results. Studies involving intermittent self-catheterization following DVIU have shown no role in short-term ISD with one study reporting beneficial effects if continued for more than a year. A significant number of studies have shown long-term complications with SC and high dropout rates.
DVIU is associated with poor long-term cure rates. It remains as a treatment of first choice for bulbar urethral strictures <1 cm with minimal spongiofibrosis. There is no role for repeated urethrotomy as outcomes are uniformly poor. ISD, when used for more than a year on a weekly or biweekly basis may delay the onset of stricture recurrence.