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Intermittent self meatal dilation

What is meatal stenosis?

Meatal stenosis is the narrowing of the urethra (tube used to empty your bladder). This can cause pain and difficulties with passing wee, and infections.

What causes meatal stenosis?

Meatal stenosis can be caused by:

  • inflammation of the foreskin
  • infections of the urinary tract (UTIs)
  • urethral trauma
  • previous surgery on the penis or urinary tract

What are the symptoms?

Some of the symptoms include:

  • slow wee stream
  • taking a long time to empty the bladder
  • dribbling wee after you think you have finished
  • sensation of needing to push the wee out or straining
  • wee retention

What is the treatment?

A treatment for this is meatal dilation. You will be taught how to do meatal dilation by a urology nurse specialist either to yourself or your parent or carer will help you.

What is meatal dilatation?

Meatal dilation involves passing a small, lubricated tube a short way into your urethra (your wee hole). This helps to stretch the narrowing and help prevent it narrowing any further.

Are there any risks?

There are some risks to this treatment including:

  • pain or discomfort when first passing the tube. You will get used to this with time, and can be improved by doing it whilst you are relaxed, such as after a bath or shower
  • bleeding is uncommon but you may see a very small amount of blood of the end of the tube after removal. This is normal and will soon stop. If bleeding is heavy or persists seek medical advice
  • infection. It is very important to wash your hands prior to touching your penis to prevent infection. The tubes used are single patient-use only and are sterile. If you think there may be a urine infection, please visit the GP
  • recurrent stricture. If it becomes very difficult to pass the tube or your urine flow narrows please call specialist nurses for advice

You will be guided on how often to do dilatation and with what size tube by the urology nurses. The tubes are available on prescription and you will have them delivered to your home address which the urology nurses will arrange for you initially, then you will need to reorder on a monthly basis by phone or online. The contact details will come with your first order.

How do we do meatal dilation?

  • wash your hands thorough and make sure your penis clean
  • collect the tube
  • pull back the foreskin (if you have one) and hold your penis up towards your tummy with 1 hand
  • insert the tube into the urethra (wee hole) 1 to 2cms, being careful not to touch the end of the tube
  • hold the tube in place for 10 seconds
  • slowly withdraw the tube and pull the foreskin forward
  • dispose of the tube in normal household waste
  • wash your hands thorough again

What are the alternatives?

If you do not want to do this method, there are procedures that you can do instead:

  • meatal dilatation done under a general anaesthetic (you are asleep)
  • meatotomy which is a small operation to stretch and cut away the narrowed tissue

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the urology specialist nurses on 0114 226 0502/

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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