An unfortunate case published in Urology Case Reports detailed how a man and his partner accidentally squirted insulating foam into the man’s urethra in an attempt to alleviate his erectile dysfunction.

The 45-year-old presented to the emergency room with difficulty urinating and blood in his urine when he was able to relieve himself. He and his partner reported to doctors that they often inserted various objects into his urethra as an “aid for erectile dysfunction”. During an attempt three weeks before admission, her partner had inserted ‘a straw attached to a can of sealant spray foam’ before ‘inadvertently pressing[ing] the foam-deploying button”.

Following the incident, he had problems urinating, which gradually got worse. A CT scan revealed that the foam had made its way into his urethra and into his bladder.

A CT scan showing the blockage. Image Credit: Rosa Park, Susan M. MacDonald/Urology Case Reports (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

The man was taken in for a cystotomy, where the team was able to remove the spray foam from his bladder. However, his urethra had been narrowed by scars – likely from other objects that had been inserted into it – which meant that they weren’t able to remove the foam from it that way. In a separate operation – known as a perineal urethrostomy – they entered the urethra through a hole they created in his perineum (aka “spot”).

Foam that has been removed from the entire urinary tract. Image Credit: Rosa Park, Susan M. MacDonald/Urology Case Reports (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
The foam that was removed from his urethra. Image Credit: Rosa Park, Susan M. MacDonald/Urology Case Reports (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

The team was able to salvage the remaining foam from his urethra, although his urethra will require further operations to repair it in the future. They pointed out that in these cases, mental illness, borderline personality disorder, sexual gratification and sometimes the attempt to gain temporary release from imprisonment often play a role.

“Unfortunately many patients are repeat offenders and therefore psychiatric evaluation to prevent re-injury should be considered. Our patient achieved a stable relationship partner, but was homeless and therefore sporadically followed by suprapubic tube changes, wrote the team.

“He has not been referred to psychiatry as he has not had repeat episodes since his operation, but he would be referred before considering reconstruction when he reaches a stable living environment.”