Urethrotomy vs. Urethrostomy

Lannie Lancaster, DVM

"Urethrotomy" is simply the creation of an opening at the base of the os penis cranial to the scrotum which allows the dog to urinate and pass small stones and crystals. As the urethra passes through the os penis its diameter decreases greatly thereby creating the perfect lodging point for many small stones. The key about a urethrotomy is that it is not a permanent opening.  The opening is allowed to close up and heal in, much like a simple laceration.  The goal is that by the time the opening heals, the stones will have passed and corrective measures to prevent reformation of uroliths will be in place (ie diet, water, +/- medications).  I have performed this procedure in many breeds, even one of my own pet Dalmatians.

A "urethrostomy" on the other hand, is the creation of a permanent opening.  It can be done in the same area as the urethrotomy, but most often is done along with a neuter and removal of the scrotum to create an opening much like that of a bitch.

In both types of surgery, there is A LOT of bleeding every time the dog urinates for up to 2 weeks, usually 5-7 days though. This is because of the tremendous amount of vasculature in the area combined with the pressure of urinating and contraction of the urethral smooth muscle. It can look like a slaughterhouse floor, but truly the dogs do fine and they do recover nicely.  Remember, corrective and preventive measures are just as important as the surgery for overall health of the bladder.