Urethral diverticulum occurs when a pocket or pouch forms along the urethra. It can fill with urine and lead to infection, causing:

  • Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Ongoing vaginal pain
  • A painful vaginal mass
  • Urinary dribbling
  • Pain with intercourse

Urethral diverticulum is a rare, and sometimes uncomfortable, condition seen most commonly in women ages 30 to 70. Its cause is not clear. Traditionally difficult to diagnose—up to 20% of those affected do not show symptoms— advances in imagining technology have led to more accurate diagnoses and help for those experiencing this condition.

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Symptoms of Urethral Diverticulum

Symptoms of urethral diverticulum may come and go, and they do not necessarily correlate with the severity of the condition. Symptoms vary, but commonly include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Recurring UTIs
  • Needing to urinate frequently at night (nocturia)
  • Symptoms of lower urinary tract, such as overactive bladder [link to overactive bladder page]
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Blood in the urine
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Urine dribbling
  • Trouble emptying the bladder
  • Incontinence
  • Tender area or mass at the front vaginal wall

Diagnosis of Urethral Diverticulum

For some people, getting to a correct diagnosis of urethral diverticulum can follow a frustrating process of misdiagnosis and treatment for the wrong condition.  Proper diagnosis may be made through:

  • In-depth health history and physical exam
  • Dynamic urine studies
  • Direct exam of bladder and urethra, using an endoscope
  • Imaging, such as pelvic MRI

In addition to MedStar Georgetown radiology specialists, patients gain access to advanced pelvic MRI and urodynamic testing technology to help in accurate diagnosis of this rare condition.

Treatment for Urethral Diverticulum

Urethral diverticulum does not always need to be corrected—but help is available for those who experience symptoms.

Surgery is the only approved treatment for this condition and is best performed by specialists trained to perform the delicate reconstructive procedure.

In addition to advanced diagnostic technology, MedStar Georgetown urology specialists have targeted training and experience treating this unique condition.

Treatment usually requires only an overnight hospital stay and typically leads to improvement of symptoms with minimal discomfort.