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Meatal stenosis

Meatal stenosis is a narrowing of the opening of the urethra, the tube through which urine leaves the body.

Causes of 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.

Risks include:

Meatal stenosis Symptoms

Symptoms include:

Tests and Exams

In boys, a history and physical exam are enough to make the diagnosis.

In girls, a voiding cystourethrogram may be done. The narrowing may also be found during a physical exam, or when a health care provider tries to place a Foley catheter.

Other tests may include:

Treatment of Meatal stenosis

In females, meatal stenosis is most often treated in the health care 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.

Prognosis (Outlook)

Most people will urinate normally after treatment.

Potential Complications

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 Health Professional

Call your health care provider if your child has symptoms of this disorder.

Prevention of Meatal stenosis

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, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 538.

Jordan GH, McCammon KA. Surgery of the penis and urethra. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 36.

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Review Date: 1/21/2015
Reviewed By: Scott Miller, MD, urologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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