Meatal stenosis is a narrowing of the opening of the urethra, the tube through which urine leaves the body.
Urethral meatal stenosis
Meatal stenosis can affect both males and females. It is more common in males.
In males, it is often caused by swelling and irritation (inflammation) after a newborn is circumcised. This leads to abnormal tissue growth and scarring across the opening of the urethra. In most cases, the problem is not found until the child is toilet trained. Surgery on the urethra, chronic catheterization, or other medical instruments in the urethra may also lead to meatal stenosis.
In females, this condition is present at birth (congenital). Less commonly, meatal stenosis may also affect adult women.
- Abnormal strength and direction of urine stream
- Bed wetting
- Bleeding (hematuria) at end of urination
- Discomfort with urination or straining with urination
- Incontinence (day or night)
- Visible narrow opening in boys
Exams and Tests
In boys, a history and physical exam are enough to make the diagnosis.
Other tests may include:
In females, meatal stenosis is most often treated in the provider's office. This is done using local anesthesia to numb the area. Then the opening of the urethra is widened (dilated) with special instruments.
In boys, a minor outpatient surgery called meatoplasty is the treatment of choice. Dilation of the meatus may also be appropriate in some cases.
Most people will urinate normally after treatment.
Complications may include:
- Abnormal urine stream
- Blood in the urine
- Frequent urination
- Painful urination
- Urinary incontinence
- Urinary tract infections
- Damage to bladder or kidney function in severe cases
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if your child has symptoms of this disorder.
If your baby boy has recently been circumcised, try to keep the diaper clean and dry. Avoid exposing the newly circumcised penis to any irritants. They may cause inflammation and narrowing of the opening.
Elder JS. Anomalies of the penis and urethra. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 544.
McCammon KA, Zuckerman JM, Jordan GH. Surgery of the penis and urethra. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 40.
Reviewed By: Jennifer Sobol, DO, urologist with the Michigan Institute of Urology, West Bloomfield, MI. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.