Penis & scrotum
Anatomy & histology-male urethra

Topic Completed: 1 August 2016

Minor changes: 7 August 2020

Copyright: 2002-2020,, Inc.

PubMed search: urethra anatomy [title] normal male

Jesus Adrian Chavez, M.D.
Debra Zynger, M.D.
Page views in 2019: 2,561
Page views in 2020 to date: 4,287
Cite this page: Chavez J. Anatomy & histology-male urethra. website. Accessed September 26th, 2020.
Definition / general
Clinical features

Diagrams / tables

Images hosted on other servers:

Embryology and anatomy

Gross images

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
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • 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

Microscopic (histologic) images

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)

Positive stains
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