Urethral Diverticulum

Urethral diverticulum (UD) is a rare condition in which a pocket or sac forms on the urethra, which is the tube that conducts urine from the bladder out of the body. Urethral diverticulum may be caused by weakness in the wall of the urethra or blockage of nearby glands. The cause is not always clear. When a sac forms where it doesn't belong, it can collect urine or pus and lead to a painful infection or vaginal mass.

What are the symptoms of urethral diverticulum?

Some women may experience:

  • Frequent urinary tract infection
  • Pelvic discomfort
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Vaginal bulge
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Blood in the urine

How is urethral diverticulum diagnosed?

Diagnostic tests and procedures may include:

  • Pelvic exam — Your doctor may conduct a pelvic examination.
  • Urinalysis — You may be asked to provide a urine sample to determine whether you have a urinary tract infection.
  • Imaging — Doctors may use a variety of tests to produce images of the inside of your body to outline the size and location of the diverticulum, which is important for surgical planning. Tests may include:
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in which a combination of radio waves, magnetic fields, and computer technology creates vivid images
    • Ultrasound tests, which use sound waves to create images
    • Cystoscopy, in which a thin scope with a tiny camera is inserted into the urethra so the doctor can look inside the urethra and bladder
  • Biopsy — A small tissue sample from the cyst may be taken to check for cancer and other possible causes of your symptoms.

How is urethral diverticulum treated?

Urethral diverticulum can be managed non-surgically or surgically.

  • Non-surgical Management
    • Observation with and without antibiotics
    • Urethral dilation and massage
  • Surgical Management — Specially trained FPMRSs can either cut and drain the sac or remove it altogether (excise it). Surgeons must take great care to preserve the function of the urethra. A catheter may be used to empty your bladder while your body heals. It may take a few weeks to recover from the surgery.

For More Information

For more information about pelvic floor disorders and incontinence, including definitions of terms, causes, symptoms, diagnoses and treatments, visit our Educational Resources page.