Free Graft Augmentation Urethroplasty for Bulbar Urethral Strictures: Which Technique Is Best? A Systematic Review
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CONTEXT: Four techniques for graft placement in one-stage bulbar urethroplasty have been reported: dorsal onlay (DO), ventral onlay (VO), dorsolateral onlay (DLO), and dorsal inlay (DI). There is currently no systematic review in the literature comparing these techniques. OBJECTIVE: To assess if stricture recurrence and secondary outcomes vary between the four techniques and to assess if one technique is superior to any other. EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: The EMBASE, MEDLINE, and Cochrane Systematic Reviews-Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; Cochrane HTA, DARE, HEED) databases and ClinicalTrials.gov were searched for publications in English from 1996 onwards. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs), nonrandomised comparative studies (NRCSs), observational studies (cohort, case-control/comparative, single-arm), and case series with ≥20 adult male participants were included. EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: A total of 41 studies were included involving 3683 patients from one RCT, four NRCSs, and 36 case series. Owing to the overall low quality of the evidence, a narrative synthesis was performed. CONCLUSIONS: No single technique appears to be superior to another for bulbar free graft urethroplasty. Both DO and VO are suitable for bulbar augmentation urethroplasty, with a ≤20% recurrence rate over medium-term follow-up. No recommendations can be made regarding DI or DLO techniques owing to the paucity of evidence. Secondary outcomes including sexual function, and complications are infrequently reported. Recurrence rates deteriorate in the long term for both DO and VO procedures. PATIENT SUMMARY: We reviewed the evidence for four different skin-graft techniques used to repair narrowing of a section of the urethra (bulbar urethra, under the scrotum and perineum) in men. Two of the techniques seem to give consistent results, with recurrence rates lower than 20%. Recurrence rates increase over time, so patients should continue to monitor their symptoms. There is poorer reporting of other outcomes such as sexual function, urinary symptoms, and complications, and it is possible that these occur more frequently than the current data suggest.
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