The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of your body. A diverticulum is a pocket or outpouching that forms in the urethra, wrote McIver Clinic.
Urethral diverticulum (UD) may show up as a firm mass protruding from the vagina. Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) said that because it typically connects to the urethra, this pocket or outpouching gets filled with urine during urination.
UD is much more common in females than in males and usually appears between the ages of 40 and 70 reported the University of Washington (UW).
Urethral diverticulum can be associated, but is not necessarily, with repeated infections and/or obstruction of the periurethral glands which line the urethral wall, wrote BCM.
Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) said that earlier studies have suggested genetic causes or trauma experienced during childbirth may be part of the cause.
McIver Clinic wrote that some symptoms are pain during sexual intercourse, recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), and dribbling urine when you stand after urinating. BMC said symptoms can also include urinary urgency, urinary frequency and blood in the urine.
Up to 20 percent of patients diagnosed with urethral diverticulum may not have noticeable symptoms, cautioned UW. Still others may have symptoms that come and go and even disappear for long periods of time, said BMC.
MUSC warned it is important to note the size of the UD does not correlate with symptoms. In some cases, very large UD may result in minimal symptoms, and conversely, some UD that are non-palpable may result in considerable discomfort and distress.
Here’s the rub. Since many of the symptoms associated with UD are non-specific, patients may often be misdiagnosed and treated for a number of unrelated conditions before the correct diagnosis of UD is made, wrote UW.
This may include interstitial cystitis, recurrent cystitis, vulvodynia, endometriosis, vulvovestibulitis and other conditions.
The good news according to eMedicine is that although urethral diverticulum is often difficult to diagnose, it has been identified with increasing frequency over the past several decades. This has been because more physicians are now aware of the condition.
While careful observation and medications may be appropriate in some cases, treatment for UD typically involves surgical removal, said BMC. eMedicine said that with appropriate surgical management cure rates are high, and recurrences are rare.
Common complications may arise from surgical removal and may include recurrent UTIs, urinary incontinence or recurrent UD, said UW. In females, urethrovaginal fistula can also be a complication.