BACKGROUND: Urethral stricture affects 0.9% of men. Initial treatment is urethrotomy. Approximately, half of the strictures recur within 4 yr. Options for further treatment are repeat urethrotomy or open urethroplasty.
OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of urethrotomy with open urethroplasty in adult men with recurrent bulbar urethral stricture.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This was an open label, two-arm, patient-randomised controlled trial. UK National Health Service hospitals were recruited and 222 men were randomised to receive urethroplasty or urethrotomy.
INTERVENTION: Urethrotomy is a minimally invasive technique whereby the narrowed area is progressively widened by cutting the scar tissue with a steel blade mounted on a urethroscope. Urethroplasty is a more invasive surgery to reconstruct the narrowed area.
OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: The primary outcome was the profile over 24 mo of a patient-reported outcome measure, the voiding symptom score. The main clinical outcome was time until reintervention.
RESULTS AND LIMITATIONS: The primary analysis included 69 (63%) and 90 (81%) of those allocated to urethroplasty and urethrotomy, respectively. The mean difference between the urethroplasty and urethrotomy groups was -0.36 (95% confidence interval [CI] -1.74 to 1.02). Fifteen men allocated to urethroplasty needed a reintervention compared with 29 allocated to urethrotomy (hazard ratio [95% CI] 0.52 [0.31-0.89]).
CONCLUSIONS: In men with recurrent bulbar urethral stricture, both urethroplasty and urethrotomy improved voiding symptoms. The benefit lasted longer for urethroplasty.
PATIENT SUMMARY: There was uncertainty about the best treatment for men with recurrent bulbar urethral stricture. We randomised men to receive one of the following two treatment options: urethrotomy and urethroplasty. At the end of the study, both treatments resulted in similar and better symptom scores. However, the urethroplasty group had fewer reinterventions.