Objectives. To assess current practice patterns among urologists and to determine the perceived efficacy of urethral dilation. Urethral dilation has been advocated as a treatment for a variety of urologic disorders in women for several decades. Recent changes in Medicare reimbursement have again focused attention on this issue. Methods. A 15-item questionnaire was mailed to all urologists actively practicing in the state of Texas (n = 642). The questionnaire consisted of 12 items about indications for, technique of, and outcome of urethral dilation, and three demographic questions regarding location and type of practice and number of years since completing residency. Results. A total of 194 physicians completed and returned the questionnaire (30%). Overall, 48.2% of practitioners used dilation six or fewer times during the past year; 23.7% reported having used it more than 30 times. Most urologists used dilation for urethral syndrome only (61.1%), although urethral stricture was also a frequently reported condition requiring dilation (29%). Most urologists trained within the past decade (60.9%) reported never offering dilation for urethral syndrome; only 34.2% of the remainder never offered it (P = 0.002). Urologists normally performed this procedure with local or no anesthesia (85%) and most commonly dilated to 32F (45%). Overall, 21% of urologists trained more than 10 years ago considered dilation very or extremely successful in treating urethral syndrome; 0 of 42 trained more recently considered it to be this successful (P = 0.014). Conclusions. The use of urethral dilation in women remains controversial. Recently trained urologists use it less frequently and find it less efficacious than those who have been practicing for longer periods. Since such obvious biases exist, it is imperative that the clinical merit of urethral dilation be carefully scrutinized.
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