Children's Hospital Colorado

Meatal Stenosis

What is meatal stenosis?

Meatal stenosis is a narrowing of the urethral meatus, which is the opening at the tip of the penis. If the opening becomes too narrow, difficulty with urination may exist.

What causes meatal stenosis?

Meatal stenosis is most commonly associated with circumcision. This is usually a result of the newly exposed skin of the penis rubbing against the diaper, causing chronic irritation and resulting in scarring and then narrowing of the meatus. 

Stenosis can also occur after a hypospadias repair, but this risk is low (approximately 4%). Injury to the tip of the penis, inflammatory conditions and prolonged use of urinary catheters can increase the risk of this condition as well.

Who gets meatal stenosis?

Male children who have been circumcised get meatal stenosis about 2% of the time.

What are the signs and symptoms of meatal stenosis?

Symptoms of meatal stenosis are associated normally with an upward deflected stream of urine. Occasionally, other symptoms are present, including:

  • A partially obstructed urinary stream
  • Pain or burning with urination; urinary urgency or frequency
  • A stream that sprays, is difficult to aim or occasionally includes drops of blood at the tip of the penis once urination is complete

If your child shows any of these signs or symptoms, please consult your primary care physician for referral to a pediatric urologist.

What tests are used to diagnose meatal stenosis?

To diagnose meatal stenosis, your child may void into a uroflow machine, which helps to measure the pressure the urine as it exits the body. No other tests are required.

How do doctors at Children's Hospital Colorado make a diagnosis?

A physical exam is required for diagnosis. Upon physical exam, a small or narrowed urethral opening is seen. Occasionally, your doctor may want to observe your child's urinary stream for evidence of spraying or deflection.

How is meatal stenosis treated?

A surgical procedure called a meatotomy is the most reliable form of treatment. This procedure involves an incision to enlarge the meatus (opening) and can be performed in clinic or in the operating room, depending on the degree of stenosis and how cooperative the patient is. Recurrence after this procedure is rare, as long as appropriate after care is given by the parent.

Why choose Children's Colorado for your child's meatal stenosis?

At Children's Colorado, we have experienced pediatric urologists and pediatric nurses who are able to quickly diagnose this meatal stenosis. We take great care in having kid-friendly environment, and normally we are able to treat this condition efficiently and without pain directly in our clinic. Occasionally, when surgery is required, our physicians perform the procedure in the operating room.

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