What Is Urogenital Sinus?

  • Ann Rose JosephDoctor of Pharmacy - PharmD , Acharya and BM Reddy college of Pharmacy, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
  • Jennifer RuppBachelor of Science, Biomedical Sciences, University of Dundee

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Introduction

Urogenital sinus, also known as persistent urogenital sinus, is a condition in which the urethra (the "exit tube" for urine) and vagina (the "birth canal") continue to share a common passageway with a single opening rather than developing their separate openings. The cloaca is the name for the shared channel with a single opening.1

Development of urogenital sinus

The presence of a cloaca is a normal representation of the early stages of human embryological development. Usually, the cloaca divides to produce the hindgut and urogenital sinus between weeks four and seven of pregnancy. Persistent cloaca (PC), a congenital (existing at birth) abnormality, is the result of this process failing. This deformity is also known as the urorectal septum malformation sequence (URSMS).2

Structure of urogenital sinus

The urogenital sinus is a developmental structure in the early embryo that gives rise to several important components of the urinary and reproductive systems in both people assigned male and female at birth The urogenital sinus is a part of the intermediate mesoderm, which plays a crucial role in the development of these systems. The structures that originate from the urogenital sinus can vary between those who are AFAB and AMAB. Here's an overview of the structures derived from the urogenital sinus in both sexes:

AFAB

  • Bladder: The uppermost portion of the urogenital sinus contributes to the formation of the urinary bladder
  • Urethra: The urogenital sinus gives rise to the urethra, which connects the bladder to the external urethral orifice. The length of the urethra is relatively short compared to that of males
  • Vagina: The lower portion of the urogenital sinus forms the vaginal vestibule. The vaginal canal and its surrounding structures, including the vestibular bulbs and the paraurethral glands (Skene's glands), develop from this part of the urogenital sinus
  • Vestibule: The vestibule is the space enclosed by the labia minora, and it contains the openings of the urethra and the vaginal canal

Again, for this whole section medical diagrams would be useful. It’s quite difficult for a reader to grasp these concepts without reference to any diagrams.

In AMAB

  • Bladder: Similar to those AFAB, the upper portion of the urogenital sinus contributes to the formation of the urinary bladder
  • Prostatic urethra: The urogenital sinus gives rise to the prostatic urethra, which is a part of the urethra that passes through the prostate gland
  • Prostate gland: The prostate gland originates from outgrowths of the prostatic urethra and the surrounding connective tissue
  • Seminal vesicles: The seminal vesicles, which are paired accessory sex glands in those AMAB, also develop as outgrowths from the prostatic urethra
  • Bulbourethral glands: The bulbourethral glands (Cowper's glands) are located near the base of the penis and produce a clear, viscous fluid that lubricates the urethra. These glands develop from the urogenital sinus as well
  • Penile urethra: The distal portion of the male urethra, including the penile urethra, forms from the urogenital sinus

In summary, the urogenital sinus is a critical structure in the development of the urinary and reproductive systems in people assigned male or female at birth. Its different portions give rise to various organs and structures, including the bladder, urethra, vagina, and several accessory sex glands and portions of the urethra in those AMAB. These structures play essential roles in the excretory and reproductive functions of the body.3

Functions of urogenital sinus

The urogenital sinus is an anatomical structure in the development of the urinary and reproductive systems in mammals, including humans. It plays several important functions in the development and functioning of these systems. Here are the primary functions of the urogenital sinus:

Urinary bladder formation

The urogenital sinus is involved in the development of the urinary bladder. It gives rise to the vesicle part of the urinary bladder, which is essential for storing and expelling urine from the body.

Urethra formation

The urogenital sinus is also responsible for the formation of the prostatic and membranous parts of the urethra in those who are AMAB. In those AFAB, it also contributes to the formation of the female urethra.

Vaginal and urogenital development

In those who are AFAB, the urogenital sinus plays a crucial role in the development of the vagina. It contributes to the formation of the lower part of the vaginal canal. In those who are AMAB, it plays a role in the development of the prostatic urethra and other reproductive structures.

Glandular tissue development

In those who are AMAB, the urogenital sinus contributes to the development of various glands, including the prostate gland, which produces secretions that nourish and support sperm. It is also involved in the development of other accessory reproductive glands.

Urethral sphincters

The urogenital sinus gives rise to the smooth muscle structures responsible for regulating the release of urine from the bladder through the urethra, specifically the internal urethral sphincter.

Overall, the urogenital sinus is a critical component of the development of the urinary and reproductive systems, with its functions varying between those who are assigned males and females at birth, contributing to the formation of specific structures and organs associated with each sex.4

Clinical relevance

Anomalies related to urogenital sinus

There is no rise in the prevalence of genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities.

Other anomalies are frequently discovered, primarily the genitourinary tract (e.g., impurate - this isn’t a word - do they mean imperforate? anus, esophageal atresia, hydronephrosis, renal agenesis, multicystic kidneys), gastrointestinal tract (e.g., bicornuate uterus, cervical atresia, vaginal atresia or duplication), and cardiovascular system.5

Treatment

Urogenital sinus repair is carried out by surgery involving the separation of the vagina and urethra. The procedure is divided into three stages. It says three stages but then has 5 bullet points following it?

  • Clitoroplasty: This procedure reshapes the tissue to resemble an AFAB clitoris. The nerves in this tissue will receive extra attention so that sexual sensations can be felt. Labia minora is also made from extra skin
  • Labioplasty: This procedure makes it possible to create the labia majora using nearby available flesh 
  • Vaginoplasty: There are several approaches to this treatment. Depending on the circumstances, the doctor and patient will determine the appropriate course of action
  • Flap vaginoplasty: This course of treatment is applied to a joined, low-confluence instance. The urethra and vagina will now have separate external entrances due to the surgeon's opening of the region
  • Pull-through vaginoplasty: The patient receiving this treatment has a high confluence (joined) condition. The vagina is brought back to the skin's surface. The common aperture will remain as the urethra's drainage channel. The surgeon might have to use a bowel or skin segment6

Summary

In conclusion, the urogenital sinus is an essential anatomical structure in the development of the urinary and reproductive systems, primarily in mammals. It serves distinct functions in those assigned male and female at birth, contributing to the formation of various vital structures and organs. In those that are AMAB, it plays a role in the development of the urinary bladder, urethra, prostate gland, and other accessory reproductive glands.

In those that are AFAB, it contributes to the formation of the vaginal canal and other urogenital structures. Understanding the functions of the urogenital sinus is crucial for comprehending the intricate process of organogenesis (provide definition for organogenesis?) and the differentiation of the urinary and reproductive systems in different sexes.

References

  1. Urogenital sinus [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. [cited 2023 Oct 17]. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16323-urogenital-sinus
  2. Thomas DM. The embryology of persistent cloaca and urogenital sinus malformations. Asian J Androl [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Oct 17];22(2):124. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.4103/aja.aja_72_19
  3. Duke embryology. Urogenital development [Internet]. Duke.edu. [cited 2023 Oct 20]. Available from: https://embryology.oit.duke.edu/urogenital/urogenital.html
  4. Urogenital Sinus [Internet]. Children’s Hospital of Orange County. CHOC - Children’s Hospital of Orange County; 2014 [cited 2023 Oct 20]. Available from: https://www.choc.org/programs-services/urology/urogenital-sinus/
  5. The Fetal Medicine Foundation. Urogenital sinus. [Internet]. Fetalmedicine.org. [cited 2023 Oct 20]. Available from: https://fetalmedicine.org/education/fetal-abnormalities/genital-tract/urogenital-sinus
  6. Vaginal abnormalities: What are Urogenital Sinus Abnormalities? [Internet]. Urologyhealth.org. [cited 2023 Oct 20]. Available from: https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/v/vaginal-abnormalities-urogenital-sinus

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Ann Rose Joseph

Doctor of Pharmacy - PharmD , Acharya and BM Reddy college of Pharmacy, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Ann Rose is a PharmD intern , showcasing an unwavering passion for healthcare field. With comprehensive knowledge regarding the principles and operational techniques of pharmacy in Healthcare settings.Equipped with a strong background in medication evaluation and clinical management of multiple chronic disease states.

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