Reference > Anatomy of the Human Body > Page 1235
Henry Gray (1825–1861).  Anatomy of the Human Body.  1918.
membrane, and numerous small glands open on its inner surface. It was called by Weber the uterus masculinus, from its being developed from the united lower ends of the atrophied Müllerian ducts, and therefore homologous with the uterus and vagina in the female.
  The membranous portion (pars membranacea) is the shortest, least dilatable, and, with the exception of the external orifice, the narrowest part of the canal. It extends downward and forward, with a slight anterior concavity, between the apex of the prostate and the bulb of the urethra, perforating the urogenital diaphragm about 2.5 cm. below and behind the pubic symphysis. The hinder part of the urethral bulb lies in apposition with the inferior fascia of the urogenital diaphragm, but its upper portion diverges somewhat from this fascia: the anterior wall of the membranous urethra is thus prolonged for a short distance in front of the urogenital diaphragm; it measures about 2 cm. in length, while the posterior wall which is between the two fasciæ of the diaphragm is only 1.25 cm. long.
  The membranous portion of the urethra is completely surrounded by the fibers of the Sphincter urethræ membranaceæ. In front of it the deep dorsal vein of the penis enters the pelvis between the transverse ligament of the pelvis and the arcuate pubic ligament; on either side near its termination are the bulbourethral glands.
  The cavernous portion (pars cavernosa; penile or spongy portion) is the longest part of the urethra, and is contained in the corpus cavernosum urethræ. It is about 15 cm. long, and extends from the termination of the membranous portion to the external urethral orifice. Commencing below the inferior fascia of the urogenital diaphragm it passes forward and upward to the front of the symphysis pubis; and then, in the flaccid condition of the penis, it bends downward and forward. It is narrow, and of uniform size in the body of the penis, measuring about 6 mm. in diameter; it is dilated behind, within the bulb, and again anteriorly within the glans penis, where it forms the fossa navicularis urethræ.
  The external urethral orifice (orificium urethræ externum; meatus urinarius) is the most contracted part of the urethra; it is a vertical slit, about 6 mm. long, bounded on either side by two small labia.
  The lining membrane of the urethra, especially on the floor of the cavernous portion, presents the orifices of numerous mucous glands and follicles situated in the submucous tissue, and named the urethral glands (Littré). Besides these there are a number of small pit-like recesses, or lacunæ, of varying sizes. Their orifices are directed forward, so that they may easily intercept the point of a catheter in its passage along the canal. One of these lacunæ, larger than the rest, is situated on the upper surface of the fossa navicularis; it is called the lacuna magna. The bulbo-urethral glands open into the cavernous portion about 2.5 cm. in front of the inferior fascia of the urogenital diaphragm.

Structure.—The urethra is composed of mucous membrane, supported by a submucous tissue which connects it with the various structures through which it passes.
  The mucous coat forms part of the genito-urinary mucous membrane. It is continuous with the mucous membrane of the bladder, ureters, and kidneys; externally, with the integument covering the glans penis; and is prolonged into the ducts of the glands which open into the urethra, viz., the bulbo-urethral glands and the prostate; and into the ductus deferentes and vesiculæ seminales, through the ejaculatory ducts. In the cavernous and membranous portions the mucous membrane is arranged in longitudinal folds when the tube is empty. Small papillæ are found upon it, near the external urethral orifice; its epithelial lining is of the columnar variety except near the external orifice, where it is squamous and stratified.
  The submucous tissue consists of a vascular erectile layer; outside this is a layer of unstriped muscular fibers, arranged, in a circular direction, which separates the mucous membrane and submucous tissue from the tissue of the corpus cavernosum urethræ.
  Congenital defects of the urethra occur occasionally. The one most frequently met with is where there is a cleft on the floor of the urethra owing to an arrest of union in the middle line. This is known as hypospadias, and the cleft may vary in extent. The simplest and by far the


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