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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Duplication of urethra

Other Names for this Disease
  • Urethral duplication
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Your Question

Last spring, my urologist told me that I had a urethral duplication. I have never received a clear picture of the prevalence. I never viewed the photos either. I'm also wondering about the cause and features of this condition. 

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is duplication of urethra?

Duplication of urethra is a very rare condition where there is an extra urethra, instead of the normal one. Urethral duplications can be classified into three types: incomplete urethral duplication (type 1), complete urethral duplication (type 2), and urethral duplication as a result of two bladdersThe urethra is the tube that connects the urinary bladder to the genitals for the removal of fluids from the body. In men, the urethra is a long tube that runs through the penis. In women, the urethra is shorter and emerges above the vaginal opening.[1][2] Click here to view a picture of the male urinary tract. Click here to view a picture of the female urinary tract.
Last updated: 8/4/2011

What are the signs and symptoms of duplication of urethra?

There are 3 different types of duplication of urethra. In type 1, the extra urethra arises from the primary urethra and may or may not extend to the external genitals. In type 2, the extra urethra either arises from another opening in the bladder or connects with the primary ureter at the opening of the bladder and then extends to the external genitals. The urethra can also connect with the primary urethra at the opening of the bladder and extend into the perineum (also called the Y-type). Type 3 is when there are two bladders that each give rise to a separate urethra that exits through the external genitals.[2] To view an illustration of these classifications, click here and view Figure 2 on page 2 of this journal article.

The clinical features of this abnormality are variable. People with complete urethral duplication can be asymptomatic or can present with a double stream of urine, incontinence, recurrent infections, or outflow obstructions. A double stream is the most common complaint and can be annoying, depending on where the extra opening in the genitals is located.[2]
Last updated: 7/15/2011

What causes duplication of urethra?

The exact cause of this condition is unknown; but it is probably due to a defect during the development of the embryo.[2]
Last updated: 7/15/2011

How rare is duplication of urethra?

Duplication of urethra is a rare congenital anomaly with only about 188 cases reported in the medical literature. This anomaly is most common in males with few cases reported in females.[2]
Last updated: 7/15/2011

How might duplication of urethra be treated?

Treatment of this condition depends on the anatomy of the duplication and its clinical features. Some people with mild symptoms do not require surgery. However, sugery might be considered for disturbing symptoms, such as an annoying double stream or incontinence, or for cosmetic reasons.[2]
Last updated: 7/15/2011