The prepuce: specialized mucosa of the penis and its loss to circumcision

Br J Urol. 1996 Feb;77(2):291-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1464-410x.1996.85023.x.


Objective: To assess the type and amount of tissue missing from the adult circumcised penis.

Materials and methods: The gross and histological features of the prepuces of 22 adults obtained at autopsy were assessed, primarily focusing on the inner or mucosal surface of the prepuce.

Results: Skin and mucosa sufficient to cover the penile shaft was frequently missing from the circumcised penis. Missing tissue included a band of ridged mucosa located at the junction of true penile skin with smooth preputial mucosa. This ridged band contains more Meissner's corpuscles than does the smooth mucosa and exhibits features of specialized sensory mucosa.

Conclusion: The amount of tissue loss estimated in the present study is more than most parents envisage from pre-operative counselling. Circumcision also ablates junctional mucosa that appears to be an important component of the overall sensory mechanism of the human penis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Circumcision, Male* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucous Membrane / anatomy & histology
  • Penis / anatomy & histology*
  • Skin / anatomy & histology