Anatomy and Development of the Urinary Tract


  • The kidneys develop from metanephros.
  • The bladder and urethra develop from the urogenital sinus
  • The prostate develops from an outgrowth of the urethral epithelium


These enter the pelvis at the pelvic inlet, and run just anterior to the bifurcation of the common iliac artery. They are about 25cm in length.
From here, the ureters carry along down the pelvic wall to join the ‘base’ of the bladder .


This is the most anterior thing in the pelvic cavity.
As it fills, it expands upwards into the abdomen.
When empty the bladder is shaped like a 3-sided pyramid that has tipped over and is layed on one of its sides.  
The apex of the bladder points anteriorly towards the top of the pubic symphysis. At the apex, is a ligament called the median umbilical ligament and this connects the apex of the bladder to the umbilicus. It is a remnant of urachus which formed the bladder.
The base of the bladder is triangular in shape and points posterioinferiorly. The two ureters enter the bladder at the tips of this triangle, and the urethra leaves at the other tip.
The epithelium of the base of the bladder is smooth and firmly attached to the underlying smooth muscle. This is in contrast to the rest of the bladder, where the mucosa is folded, and loosely attached to the smooth muscle.
The neck of the bladder is the most inferior and the most fixed part of the bladder. It is held in place by two fibromuscular bands that connect it to the posterior aspect of the pubic bone. These bands are called the pubovesical ligaments in women, and the puboprostatic ligaments in men.
The position of the bladder changes with child development. At birth, the bladder is almost entirely abdominal. With age, and especially during puberty, the bladder moves downwards until it assumes its adult position after puberty.
The bladder and urethra are supplied by the internal iliac artery.



The urethra is about 4 cm long, and it passes posteriorly downwards. The inferior surface of the urethra is bound to the anterior aspect of the vagina.
At the lower end of the urethra are two glands called Skene’s glands. These drain via two little ducts that open out on either side of the urethral orifice.
 These glands are the female ‘equivalent’ of the prostate gland, and at first glance they appear to have no function. In some women they are not present. Some people believe that they are the ‘G-spot’. They can be felt through the anterior surface of the vagina. The glands have been shown to release a secretion when mechanically stimulated. This secretion is similar in composition to that of the prostate gland. The secretion seen in ‘female ejaculation’ is from these glands.  


The urethra is about 20cm long, and it has two bends along its course. During erection, the second bend is not present. Also note how the first bend does not occur until after the urethra has passed through the deep perineal pouch and perineal membrane.
The urethra in men is divided into four parts:
  1. Preprostatic part – this is 1cm long and extends from the bladder to the prostate. It is associated with a ‘cuff’ of circular muscle fibres – the internal urethral sphincter. This sphincter closes during ejaculation, and this prevents movement of semen into the bladder during ejaculation.
  2. Prostatic Part – this is 3-4cm long and is surrounded by the prostate. In this region, the urethra is marked by a longitudinal fold along the midline known as the urethral crest. The depression on each side of this crest is called the urethral sinus and it is here than the prostate empties its secretion.                                                              
    1. Halfway along the prostate is a small blind opening called the prostatic utricle – and it is though that this is the equivalent of the uterus in men. Just below the prostatic utricle there are two openings that are the openings of the ejaculatory ducts. So, the connection of the reproductive and urinary tracts occurs in the prostatic urethra in men.
  3. Membranous part – this is narrow and it passes through the deep perineal pouch. During transit through the deep perineal pouch, in both men and women, the urethra is surrounded by skeletal musclewhich forms the external urethral sphincter.
  4. Spongy urethra – this is inside the corpus spongiosum of the penis. At the base of the penis it is enlarged to form a blulb, and it does so again, this time at the other end of the penis to form the navicular fossa.  


  • These lie retroperitoneally at the level of L1-L2
  • Usually, they are supplied by a single artery, but in some people there are multiple arteries.
  • The renal vein drains the kidney into the inferior vena cava.
  • Renal lymphatics drain into the para-aortic nodes.

Male Reproductive system