Many congenital and acquired anomalies can lead to a defect or stenosis of the urinary tract that ultimately need to be rebuilt. Past surgical repair often utilizes skin, oral mucosa or autologous graft, which may lead to many postoperative complications. The development of tissue engineering technology has opened up a new treatment approach for urethral repair and reconstruction.OBJECTIVE:
To summarize the current development of scaffold materials, cell sources, and the clinical applications of tissue engineering technology in urethral repair and reconstruction.METHODS:
A computer-based online search of literatures related to urethral tissue engineering from January 1994 to may 2012 was performed by the first author in PubMed database and Wanfang database using the key words of “tissue engineering, urethra, scaffold materials, stem cells, vascularization” in English and in Chinese. Literatures published in the authorized journals or recently were preferred. A total of 57 literatures were chosen in result analysis.RESULTS AND CONCLUSION:
The main goals underlying the most current research in tissue engineering remain the following: the determination of the optimal scaffold for cell seeding, the best source of stem cells, and the promotion of neovascularization and nerve regeneration into the implant. Studies addressing urethral tissue engineering have demonstrated that acellular scaffolds with or with no seed cells can be used for urethral reconstructions in clinical trials. While continued development and additional innovation are necessary before potential broad applications are realized, there is cautious optimism that tissue engineering technology will play an increasing role in the management of urethral diseases.