NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Despite the popularity of urethrotomy for treating urethral strictures in men, the success rate is less than 10% initially and may drop to zero over time, researchers report in the May issue of the Journal of Urology.

“The most common treatment for male urethral stricture is urethrotomy, but unfortunately this procedure has a very poor long term success rate,” lead author Dr. Richard Santucci told Reuters Health by email.

Dr. Santucci and his coauthor Dr. Lauren Eisenberg, both of Detroit Medical Center and Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine, cite earlier reports that initial urethrotomy fails in at least 50% of cases.

When they reviewed their own data on 76 patients who had urethrotomy for simple strictures over a period of about 15 years, the stricture-free rate after the first procedure was only 8%, and the median time to recurrence was 7 months. For second procedures, the corresponding stricture-free rate and interval to recurrence were 6% and 9 months, respectively, and for the third procedure, 9% and 3 months.