Urethral Foreign Bodies: Clinical Presentation and Management

Cristina J. Palmer*, Matthew Houlihan, Sarah P. Psutka, K. Alexandria Ellis, Patricia Vidal, Courtney M P Hollowell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective To review a single institution's 15-year experience with urethral foreign bodies, including evaluation, clinical findings, and treatment. Materials and Methods In total, 27 patients comprising 35 episodes of inserted urethral foreign bodies were reviewed at Cook County Hospital between 2000 and 2015. Retrospective chart review was performed to describe the clinical presentation, rationale for insertion, management, recidivism, and sequelae. Results Median patient age was 26 (range 12-60). Twenty-six patients (97 %) were male, 1 was female (3%). Items inserted included pieces of plastic forks, spoons, metal screws and aluminum, pieces of cardboard or paper, staples, writing utensils such as pens and pencils, as well as coaxial cable and spray foam sealant. Reported reasons for insertion were self-stimulation, erectile enhancement, and attention seeking. Presenting symptoms included dysuria, gross hematuria, urinary retention, urinary tract infection, and penile discharge. The most common technique for removal was manual extraction with extrinsic pressure (n = 19, 54%). Other methods include endoscopic retrieval (n = 8, 23%), open cystotomy (n = 1, 3%), and voiding to expel the foreign body (n = 7, 20%). Postremoval complications included urinary tract infection (n = 7), sepsis (n = 4), urethral false passage (n = 5), laceration (n = 5), and stricture (n = 1). Conclusion We present the largest single-institutional series of urethral foreign bodies to date. Urethral foreign body insertion is a relatively rare occurrence and, commonly, is a recurrent behavior. Urethral trauma related to foreign body insertion is associated with significant risk of infection and urethral injury with long-term sequelae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-260
Number of pages4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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