Penis & scrotum


Anatomy & histology-male urethra

Last author update: 1 August 2016
Last staff update: 30 November 2022 (update in progress)

Copyright: 2002-2022,, Inc.

PubMed search: urethra anatomy [title] normal male

Jesus Adrian Chavez, M.D.
Debra L. Zynger, M.D.
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Cite this page: Chavez J. Anatomy & histology-male urethra. website. Accessed December 3rd, 2022.
Definition / general
Clinical features

Diagrams / tables

Images hosted on other servers:

Embryology and anatomy

Gross images

Contributed by Jesus Adrian Chavez, M.D. and Debra L. Zynger, M.D.

Dissected male urethra, longitudinal section

Penectomy, cross section

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 Jesus Adrian Chavez, M.D. and Debra L. Zynger, M.D.

Prostate, cross section with prostatic urethra

Prostatic urethra (10x)

and prostatic

Bulbourethral (Cowper) glands (10x)

Bulbourethral (Cowper) glands (20x)

Penile urethra (2x)

Penile glands of Littre (40x)

Penile intraepithelial (juxtaepithelial) glands (40x)

Positive stains
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