Urethral Obstruction


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What is Urethral Obstruction?

Urinary tract obstruction is a blockage that impedes the flow of urine via its normal route (through the urinary tract). This can include the kidneys, ureter, bladder and urethra. Blockage can be either complete or partial and can lead to kidney damage, kidney stones, or infection. 


Symptoms will depend on the cause, location and duration of the obstruction. When the obstruction develops quickly, distending the bladder, ureter or the kidney, individuals can experience pain. If the kidney is distended, renal colic can occur. Renal colic is a severe pain between the ribs and hip on the affected side that comes and goes every few minutes. This pain may extend into the testis or vaginal area. Individuals may experience nausea and vomiting associated with this. 

Other symptoms may include: 

  • Increased or Decreased flow of urine
  • Nocturia (waking at night to urinate)
  • Pain, pressure or bladder distention
  • Flank pain


Treatment will depend on the cause. Patients who have congenital abnormalities will require surgery, while those who have kidney stoned may be able to pass the stones with time. Extrinsic conditions that result in upper urinary tract obstruction will require treatment. For example, an enlarged prostate may require surgery to remove all or part of the prostate to alleviate the obstruction.