Evaluation and management of urethral and periurethral masses in women

Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2023 Dec 1;35(6):517-524. doi: 10.1097/GCO.0000000000000914. Epub 2023 Aug 29.


Purpose of review: Female periurethral masses are an uncommon occurrence. The purpose of this review is to describe etiologies of female urethral and periurethral masses and to provide an update on diagnosis and management.

Recent findings: The most common causes of periurethral and urethral masses in women are urethral caruncles, urethral diverticula, and Skene's gland cysts. Urethral meatal lesions such as urethral caruncles and prolapse can be managed conservatively with topical estrogen therapy and close follow-up or should be excised in the setting of thrombosis, significant or recurrent bleeding, acute urinary retention, or persistent pain. Benign periurethral gland masses, such as Skene's gland cysts, Gartner's duct cysts, and Mullerian duct cysts, remain rare. Recent case series reveal a high rate of surgical management of these lesions with few complications. Urethral malignancy or malignant transformation of benign etiologies are even rarer but can be aggressive in nature and should be treated promptly.

Summary: Nonspecific urinary and vaginal symptoms as well as similar physical presentations make diagnosis of urethral and periurethral lesions in females difficult. Magnetic resonance imaging is useful for differentiation of periurethral masses. The decision for conservative or surgical management is typically guided by patient symptom bother, as well as concern for urethral malignancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cysts* / diagnosis
  • Cysts* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Urethra / surgery
  • Urethral Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Urethral Diseases* / surgery
  • Urethral Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Urethral Neoplasms* / therapy