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Male urinary bladder and urethra

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to: 

  1. Identify the main anatomical features of the male urinary bladder. 
  2. Describe and define the anatomical relations of the male urinary bladder. 
  3. Name the 4 parts of the male urethra.
  4. Describe the course of the male urethra from the urinary bladder to the external urethral orifice.

Watch video

The urinary bladder is a hollow distensible muscular organ which functions to temporarily store urine. When empty, the urinary bladder is shaped like a pyramid and lies entirely within the lesser pelvis. As the bladder begins to fill, it becomes ovoid and expands in an upward direction to occupy a part of the greater pelvis. 

The male urinary bladder is located just inferior to the peritoneum and lies anterior to the rectum, anterosuperior to the prostate gland and posterior to the pubic symphysis. It is made up of four distinct parts known as the apex, body, fundus and neck, as well as three surfaces: a superior surface and two inferolateral surfaces. Extending from the neck of the bladder is the urethra. 

The male urethra is a roughly 20cm long tube and extends from the internal urethral orifice of the neck of the bladder to the external urethral orifice of the penile glans. From proximal to distal, it is divided into the intramural/preprostatic, prostatic, membranous and spongy urethra and features openings for the prostatic fluid, semen from the testes and excretions of the bulbourethral glands.

Find out more about the anatomical structure, neurovasculature and surrounding structures of the male urinary bladder and urethra by watching the video below!

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Time to consolidate all that knowledge with a quiz!

For a broader range of topics try out the fully customizable quiz below, which allows you to save your topic selections so that you can quiz yourself later.

Browse atlas

Explore the anatomical features and surrounding structures of the male urinary bladder and urethra seen on a coronal section in the gallery below.

Explore the anatomical features and surrounding structures of the male urinary bladder and urethra seen on a coronal section in the gallery below!

Coronal section of male urinary bladder and urethra

Now that you have a good understanding of the male urinary bladder, let’s explore its surrounding structures and relations from different perspectives.

Anatomical relations and neurovasculature of male urinary bladder

Finally lets take a look at a longitudinal cross section of the penis and male urethra in the gallery below!

Parts of the male urethra


Key points on the male urinary bladder
Surfaces Superior, left inferolateral and right inferolateral
Parts Apex, body, fundus and neck
Lining/wall Peritoneum (superior surface only), pelvic visceral fascia
Bladder wall:
Serosa (reflection of peritoneum), detrusor vesicae muscle, subserosa and mucosa
Internal features Right ureteral orifice, left ureteral orifice, interureteric crest, trigone, uvula of bladder, internal urethral orifice
Neurovascular supply Arterial: Superior vesical artery, inferior vesical artery
Venous: Vesical venous plexus (vesical veins)
Nerve: Vesical plexus, inferior hypogastric plexus
Surrounding structures and spaces Superior: Pelvic visceral fascia, peritoneal membrane, sigmoid colon
Anterior: Retropubic space, pubic symphysis
Posterior: Seminal gland, rectoprostatic fascia, rectovesical pouch, rectum
Inferior: Prostate, levator ani muscle
Key points on the male urethra
Begins Internal urethral orifice (of urinary bladder)
Ends External urethral orifice (glans penis)
Parts Preprostatic/intramural part, prostatic part (crest of urethra, prostatic ducts, seminal colliculus, opening of ejaculatory ducts), membranous part and spongy part (bulbourethral glands, ampulla of urethra, navicular fossa)
Neurovascular supply Arterial: Inferior vesical artery, artery of bulb of penis
Venous: Prostatic venous plexus
Nerve: Prostatic plexus, pudendal nerve
Surrounding structures Prostate, external urethral sphincter, corpus spongiosum, bulbospongiosus muscle, corpus cavernosum

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