Anatomy and histology

Topic Completed: 1 August 2016

Revised: 13 May 2019

Copyright: 2002-2018, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.

PubMed search: urethra normal

Jesus Adrian Chavez, M.D.
Debra Zynger, M.D.
Page views in 2019 to date: 164
Cite this page: Chavez J. OLD Anatomy and histology. PathologyOutlines.com website. http://www.pathologyoutlines.com/oldtopics/urethranormal.html. Accessed September 18th, 2019.
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
    • Nonkeratinizing 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) glands: mucous-acinous glands in the bulbous and membranous urethra with uniform pale cytoplasm and basal, compressed nuclei
      • Littré glands: tubuloacinar-mucinous glands with uniform, pale eosinophilic to clear cytoplasm and basally flattened nuclei in penile urethra (Mills: Histology for Pathologists, 4th Edition, 2012)
      • 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
    • Nonkeratinizing squamous epithelium: same as male urethra, see above
    • Periurethral glands
      • Periurethral (Skene) glands: lined by columnar or cuboidal epithelium with surrounding connective tissue and smooth muscle (Ann Anat 2002;184:341)
      • Minor vestibular glands (Littré 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) glands (10x)

Bulbourethral (Cowper)
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
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