Jimmy Kimmel’s penis surgeries: What happens when a urethra closes?

Over the weekend at SXSW in Austin, Tex., Jimmy Kimmel revealed that he had two surgeries on his penis to correct an unexpected medical issue with his urethra. He did not reveal a formal diagnosis.

“It just kind of closed up on its own,” he told E! News. “I don’t know why it happened. I still don’t know why.”

“I don’t know, the guy said your urethra is closing up and we need to operate on it, and they did,” he said. “And they said, ‘Yeah, we didn’t really get it. It didn’t quite work. We have to do it again.’ And they did it again.”

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a urethral stricture is an abnormal narrowing of the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder, the urethra. Causes may include inflammation or scar tissue from surgery, disease, or injury.  Symptoms include blood in the semen, strong urge to urinate and frequent urination, and pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic area.

Urethral stricture can be diagnosed by a physical examination or by conducting tests, such as measuring the rate of flow during urination, according to Healthline.

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Once diagnosed, the urethra may be widened by a thin instrument called a dilator in an outpatient procedure. In this procedure, doctors pass a small wire through the urethra into the bladder, using larger dilators over time to increase the width of the urethra.

If urethral dilation is not successful, surgery may be necessary, and options depend on the location and length of the narrowed area. For longer strictures, an open urethroplasty may be done to remove the diseased area and rebuild the urethra. Sometimes, treatment needs to be repeated to remove scar tissue.

According to the NIH, there are currently no drug treatments for the disease, but treatment typically offers positive results.

Kimmel did not share whether he was formally diagnosed with a specific illness or condition but did say the surgeries occurred “a long time ago.”