Penile urethral reconstruction: concepts and concerns

Arch Esp Urol 2003; 56: 549-556.

Reconstruction of the penile urethra is a challenging exercise, and for many surgeons an ungratifying experience. The past three decades have seen us move from predominantly 2-staged surgery, through foreskin grafts, and then single stage flap reconstructions, and now in the 3rd millennium, for some situations 2-stage repair has again become the favoured option. Satisfying short-term solutions have sometimes resulted in poor long-term outcomes when reviewed 10 years later. Clearly there are still problems to be resolved, hence the need for continuing evolution in our surgical management. Lessons have been learned from the treatment of Lichen Sclerosus, from strictures following hypospadias repair, and strictures associated with severe spongiofibrosis. Management of these problems has traditionally been associated with not only a high incidence of restricture and fistula formation, but also with poor cosmetic results, something that men today find increasingly difficult to accept. Several considerations are fundamental to achieving the best functional and aesthetic results. These include the presence or absence of Lichen Sclerosus, the extent of urethral disease and its grade (i.e. mucosal disease or with accompanying spongiofibrosis); furthermore the use of non-genital grafts for urethral reconstruction when the local penile tissues are deficient or unhealthy. In arriving at our present strategy, a collaborative approach that integrates established urological practice with the different perspectives of a plastic surgeon (A.B.) has proved constructive and beneficial.