Authors: Jesus A. Chavez, M.D. (see Authors page)
Editors: Debra L. Zynger, M.D.

Revised: 22 August 2016, last major update August 2016

Copyright: (c) 2002-2016, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.

PubMed search: urethra normal
Cite this page: Normal. PathologyOutlines.com website. http://pathologyoutlines.com/topic/urethranormal.html. Accessed May 29th, 2017.
Definition / general
Clinical features
Clinical images

Images hosted on other servers:

Various images

Gross images

Images hosted on PathOut server:

Contributed by Dr. Jesus A. Chavez and Dr. Debra L. Zynger, The Ohio State University (USA):

Dissected male urethra, longitudinal section

Penectomy, cross section, normal urethra, surrounded by corpus spongiosum

Female urethra (blue, distal) and bladder

Microscopic (histologic) description
    Male urethra:
    • Urothelium
      • Basal layers composed of either low columnar or cuboidal cells, followed by several layers of polyhedral cells
      • Most superficial composed of round, dome shaped umbrella cells that are occasionally multinucleated and flattened according to amount of distention
    • Stratified / pseudostratified columnar epithelium
      • Multiple cell layers of polyhedral cells; the most superficial are columnar
      • Stratified / pseudostratified; in the pseudostratified layer, all cells are in contact with the basal layer
    • Non-keratinizing squamous epithelium
      • Composed of multiple layers
      • Divided in zones according to cell shapes; cuboidal (deepest), polymorphous (middle), squamous / flattened (superficial)
    • Urethral / periurethral glands
      • Bulbourethral (Cowper's) glands: mucous-acinous glands in the bulbous and membranous urethra with uniform pale cytoplasm and basal, compressed nuclei
      • Littre’s glands: tubuloacinar-mucinous glands with uniform, pale eosinophilic to clear cytoplasm and basally flattened nuclei in penile urethra (Mills: Histology for Pathologists, 2012, 4th ed)
      • Intraepithelial (juxtaepithelial) glands: nests of cells with eosinophilic to flocculent cytoplasm with basally placed nucleus located at the junction of the epithelium and subepithelium

    Female urethra:
    • Urothelium: same as male urethra, see above
    • Non-keratinizing squamous epithelium: same as male urethra, see above
    • Periurethral glands
      • Periurethral (Skene’s) glands: lined by columnar or cuboidal epithelium with surrounding connective tissue and smooth muscle (Ann Anat 2002;184:341)
      • Minor vestibular glands (Littre’s glands): same as male urethra, see above
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on PathOut server:

Contributed by Dr. Jesus A. Chavez and Dr. Debra L. Zynger, The Ohio State University (USA):

Prostate, cross section with prostatic urethra

Prostatic urethra (10x)

Prostatic verumontanum and prostatic urethra; ejaculatory fluids are emptied into prostatic urethra

Bulbourethral (Cowper's) glands (10x)

Bulbourethral (Cowper's) glands; note proximity to skeletal muscle (20x)

Penile urethra (2x)

Penile glands of Littre (40x)

Penile intraepithelial (juxtaepithelial) glands (40x)

Images hosted on other servers:


Penile urethra

Prostatic urethra

Positive stains