Understanding Urethral Diverticulum

Published: December 11, 2018

What is it?

Urethral diverticulum (UD), is an uncommon condition, that occurs when a pouch, sac, or pocket forms next to or along the urethra. Because of the location, the pouch frequently fills with urine and can cause recurrent infections and other unwanted urological symptoms. 

Who does it effect?

UD is much more common in women than men. While it can occur at any age, it’s very rare in children, and typically develops between the ages of 30 and 70. The total number of cases is difficult to assess because many patients with UD symptoms do not receive an accurate diagnosis.

What are the symptoms?

Some people with UD do not present any symptoms. And for some patients, the symptoms come and go. (1) In addition, because many of the symptoms of UD are indicators of much more common urological conditions, UD can be very challenging to diagnose. 

In most UD cases, symptoms include:

  • Stinging or burning during urination
  • Frequent urination
  • An urgent “got to go” feeling
  • Pain during sex
  • Dribbling after you urinate
  • Frequent bladder infections or urinary tract infections
  • Discharge from the urethra
  • Recurrent inflammation of the bladder

Diagnosing and treatment?

With advances in medical imaging, in recent years more cases of UD have been successfully diagnosed and treated. If your physician suspects that you have UD, your doctor will likely order a MRI of the pelvis. This MRI, combined with an endoscopic exam of the urinary system will help inform your surgeon of the size and location of any present diverticula. 

If your UD is incidentally found and not causing symptoms, surgical intervention may not be required. (1) However, if symptoms are causing recurrent urological issues, the most common treatment recommendation is that urethral diverticula be surgically removed to prevent further symptoms. 

If you are dealing with frequent urological issues that are not being resolved through standard treatments, consider making an appointment with Virginia Urology. One of our highly specialized urologists will work with you to get to the bottom of your urological conditions. And if it turns out that you have UD, a VU surgeon will pinpoint the cause of the issue and can then expertly remove it. 

(1) https://www.washington.edu/urology/urethral-diverticulum/