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Urethral Trauma Workup

  • Author: James M Cummings, MD; Chief Editor: Bradley Fields Schwartz, DO, FACS  more...
Updated: Nov 18, 2015

Imaging Studies

These studies have become even more important as trauma services rely more on initial CT scanning as the major imaging modality. The "trauma" CT may well miss lower urinary tract injuries to the urethra and bladder and thus any suspicion for urethral injury should lead one to perform these studies in addition to any others.[6]

Retrograde urethrography

The retrograde urethrography is the standard imaging study for the diagnosis of urethral injury. It is performed using gentle injection of 20-30 mL of contrast into the urethra. Examination is made for extravasation, which pinpoints the existence and location of the urethral tear.


The static cystography allows for concurrent bladder injury to be excluded in the acute setting. When a delayed repair is being considered, voiding cystography (performed through the suprapubic catheter) demonstrates the bladder neck and prostatic urethral anatomy and allows for proper surgical planning.


Diagnostic Procedures

Cystoscopy can be a valuable adjunct in the evaluation of a male urethral injury. In the acute setting, the feasibility of early endoscopic realignment can be determined (see Treatment). In the delayed setting, the quality of the urethra can be evaluated for surgical repair. When cystoscopy is combined with retrograde urethrography and cystography, a more accurate estimation of stricture length can be made, facilitating decisions in operative strategy.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

James M Cummings, MD Professor, Department of Surgery, Division of Urology, University of Missouri School of Medicine

James M Cummings, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Surgeons, American Urological Association, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Mark Jeffrey Noble, MD Consulting Staff, Urologic Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Mark Jeffrey Noble, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, American Urological Association, Kansas Medical Society, Sigma Xi, Society of University Urologists, SWOG

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Bradley Fields Schwartz, DO, FACS Professor of Urology, Director, Center for Laparoscopy and Endourology, Department of Surgery, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

Bradley Fields Schwartz, DO, FACS is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Surgeons, Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons, Society of University Urologists, Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, American Urological Association, Endourological Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Daniel B Rukstalis, MD Professor of Urology, Wake Forest Baptist Health System, Wake Forest University School of Medicine

Daniel B Rukstalis, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Urological Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous coauthor John Boullier, MD, to the development and writing of this article.

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Urethrogram demonstrating partial urethral disruption.
Urethrogram demonstrating complete urethral disruption.
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