Indian Journal of Urology
: 2014  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 117--121

Harvesting oral mucosa for one-stage anterior urethroplasty

Sanjay Balwant Kulkarni1, Guido Barbagli2, Salvatore Sansalone2, Pankaj Mangalkumar Joshi1,  
1 Center for Reconstructive Urology, Pune, India
2 Center for Reconstructive Urethral Surgery, Arezzo, Italy

Correspondence Address:
Sanjay Balwant Kulkarni
Centre for Reconstructive Urology,3,rajpath Society, Paud Road, Pune


Oral mucosa has been the most popular substitute material for urethral reconstructive surgery because it is easy to harvest, is easy to access, has a concealed donor site scar, and obviates most of the problems associated with other grafts. However, the success of using oral mucosa for urethral surgery is mainly attributed to the biological properties of this tissue. Herein, the surgical steps of harvesting oral mucosa from the inner cheek are presented with an emphasis on tips and tricks to render the process easier and more reproducible and to prevent intra and post-operative complications. The following steps are emphasized: Nasal intubation, ovoid shape graft, delicate harvesting leaving the muscle intact, donor site closure and removal of submucosal tissue.

How to cite this article:
Kulkarni SB, Barbagli G, Sansalone S, Joshi PM. Harvesting oral mucosa for one-stage anterior urethroplasty.Indian J Urol 2014;30:117-121

How to cite this URL:
Kulkarni SB, Barbagli G, Sansalone S, Joshi PM. Harvesting oral mucosa for one-stage anterior urethroplasty. Indian J Urol [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Oct 21 ];30:117-121
Available from:

Full Text


The first use of oral mucosa for urethral reconstruction was reported in the 19 th century by two Ukrainian surgeons. [1],[2] In 1984, Sapezhko published four clinical cases of urethroplasty with autologous tubularized oral mucosa grafts and in 1902, Tyrmos described two cases of oral mucosa grafts in two patients with a urethral fistula following lithotomy. [1],[2] In Europe, a British surgeon, Humby, is credited with the first use of oral mucosal graft for urethral reconstruction. [1],[2] In 1941, Humby fully described the use of oral mucosa from the lower lip in an 8-year-old child with peno-scrotal fistula due to previously failed hypospadias repair. [3] In 1992, Burger et al., from Germany, popularized the use of oral mucosa graft for urethral reconstruction in six patients with failed hypospadias/epispadias repair, after having successfully tested the technique on an animal model. [4] This series represents a hallmark study, as it describes transnasal intubation to render the harvesting process easier for the surgeon, and infiltration with a 1% lidocaine (1 part in 100,000) epinephrine solution of the donor site submucosa to guarantee better hemostasis. [4] In the same year, Dessanti et al., from Italy, also described the use of oral mucosa for primary hypospadias repair in eight children. [5] After the success of these two series, oral mucosa has been widely used, mainly in pediatric reconstructive urethral surgery. [6] In 1993, El-Kasaby et al., described the use of oral mucosa from the lip for the repair of penile and bulbar urethral strictures in 20 patients. [7] The technique of harvesting oral mucosa from the inner cheek was standardized by Morey and McAninch in 1996. [8] These authors used the Steinhδuser mucosa stretcher and suggested that two teams work simultaneously, one harvesting the oral mucosa and the other exposing the urethra and preparing the recipient site for grafting, in order to reduce operating time and the risk of cross contamination between the two surgical fields. [8]

The oral mucosa is now universally considered the best substitute material for penile and bulbar urethral stricture repair when one-stage techniques are used. Herein, the surgical steps of harvesting oral mucosa from the inner cheek are presented with an emphasis on tips and tricks to render the process easier and more reproducible, and to prevent intra-and postoperative complications.

 Planning and Preparation

One-stage urethroplasty with oral mucosa graft is feasible in all patients presenting with uncomplicated urethral strictures in the penile or bulbar urethra. Oral mucosa may also be used in patients with previous failed urethroplasty or with recurrent strictures following repeated direct vision optical urethrotomy. Patient age does not influence the success rate and thus this technique should not be denied to older patients.

Preoperative evaluation includes clinical history, physical examination, midstream urine culture, post-voiding residual measurement, uroflowmetry, urethral ultrasound, and retrograde and voiding urethrography. The patient's clinical history as well as stricture etiology, site, and length are carefully evaluated preoperatively to define the characteristics needed in the oral mucosal graft. The patient is fully examined to exclude any ongoing infectious disease affecting the mouth (such as Candida, varicella-virus or herpes virus) and to evaluate mouth opening and extension. Patients with restricted mouth opening or extension due to individual anatomical characteristics or due to previous mouth or tongue surgery are counselled that genital or extra-genital skin would be used for the urethroplasty if, during the anesthesia, access to the mouth cavity should be compromised. Patients who play a wind instrument are informed that oral mucosa harvesting may negatively influence this activity. Three days prior to surgery, the patient begins oral cleansing with a chlorhexidine mouthwash. The day before surgery prophylactic antibiotics are administered. In patients who chew tobacco or eat pan masala, the oral graft tends to have a diffuse fibrosis of the submucosal layer of the inner cheek. [9] In these patients, the use of retroauricolar skin should be an alternative. [10]


The patient is placed is a standard supine position for penile urethroplasty and in a simple lithotomy, with the calves placed in Allen stirrups, for bulbar urethroplasty. The surgical steps are illustrated in [Figure 1], [Figure 2] , [Figure 3] , [Figure 4] , [Figure 5] , [Figure 6] , [Figure 7] , [Figure 8] , [Figure 9] , [Figure 10].{Figure 1}{Figure 2}{Figure 3}{Figure 4}{Figure 5}{Figure 6}{Figure 7}{Figure 8}{Figure 9}{Figure 10}

Recommended instruments

Kilner-Doughty mouth retractor (Lawton-Germany)Bipolar electro-cauteryReady-made syringe 10 ml (Bupisolver) containing bupivacaine HCL 2.5 mg/ml and epinephrine acid tartrate 0.0091 mg (0.005 mg epinephrine) (AltaSelect-Italy)4/0 polyglactin (Vicryl*) to suture the harvesting siteIris scissorsSilicone board-insulin needlesIce bag

The following tips may aid the successful harvest and use of buccal mucosal grafts:

The use of double team may prevent cross contamination of the surgical fields.The use of mouth retractors provides superior exposure and helps identify all the surgical landmarks.If the shape of the graft is ovoid, donor site morbidity can be minimized and allows tension free closure of the defect. [11],[12],[13] If the size of the graft exceeds 4 × 2.5 cm, closure of the donor site defects may be under tension.Suturing the donor site may reduce the risk of bleeding and promote quicker healing. [11],[12],[13]

 Postoperative Care

An ice bag is applied on the cheek to reduce pain and prevent the formation of hematomas. In order to minimize discomfort, patients are initially kept on clear fluid and ice cream and progressively switched to a regular diet on postoperative day 2; regular rinsing with chlorhexidine mouth wash is continued for 3 days. Ambulation is encouraged from postoperative day 1 and the patient is usually discharged home within 3 days on broad-spectrum oral antibiotics, which are continued till the removal of the catheter.


The technique described is simple, reliable, and easily reproducible. However, appropriate surgical instrument must be available and the previously described fundamental steps must be followed meticulously to achieve adequate results and minimize complication rates. Using this technique to harvest the graft from both cheeks, it is possible to harvest enough mucosa to repair most penile or bulbar urethral strictures using one-stage techniques.


1Korneyev I, Ilyin D, Schultheiss D, Schultheiss D, Chapple C. The first oral mucosal graft urethroplasty was carried out in the 19 th century: The pioneering experience of Kirill Sapezhko (1857-1928). Eur Urol 2012;62:624-7.
2Schultheiss D, Gabouev AI, Korneyev I. Re: Buccal mucosal grafts: Lessons learned from an 8-year experience. J Urol 2002;168:202-3.
3Humby G. A one-stage operation for hypospadias. Br J Surg 1941;29:84-92.
4Bürger RA, Müller SC, el-Damanhoury H, Tschakaloff A, Riedmiller H, Hohenfellner R. The buccal mucosa graft for urethral reconstruction: A preliminary report. J Urol 1992;147:662-4.
5Dessanti A, Rigamonti W, Merulla A, Falchetti D, Caccia G. Autologous buccal mucosa graft for hypospadias repair: An initial report. J Urol 1992;147:1081-3.
6Markiewicz MR, Lukose MA, Margarone JE 3 rd , Barbagli G, Miller KS, Chuang SK. The oral mucosa graft: A systematic review. J Urol 2007;178:387-94.
7el-Kasaby AW, Fath-Alla M, Noweir AM, el-Halaby MR, Zakaria W, el-Beialy MH. The use of buccal mucosa patch graft in the management of anterior urethral strictures. J Urol 1993;149:276-8.
8Morey AF, McAninch JW. When and how to use buccal mucosal grafts in adult bulbar urethroplasty. Urology 1996;48:194-8.
9Chhaya VA, Sinha V, Rathor R, Modi N, Rashmi GS, Parma V, et al. Oral submucus fibrosis-surgical treatment with CO2 laser. Word articles in ENT 2012;3.
10Manoj B, Sanjeev N, Pandurang PN, Jaideep M, Ravi M. Postauricolar skin as an alterrnative to oral mucosa for anterior onaly graft urethroplasty: A preliminary experience in patients with oral mucosa changes. Urology 2009;74:345-8.
11Barbagli G, Vallasciani S, Romano G, Fabbri F, Guazzoni G, Lazzeri M. Morbidity of oral mucosa graft harvesting from a single cheek. Eur Urol 2010;58:33-41.
12Rourke K, McKinny S, St. Martin B. Effect of wound closure on buccal mucosal graft harvest site morbidity: Results of a randomized prospective trial. Urology 2012;79:443-7.
13Barbagli G, Lazzeri M. Re: Rourke et al.: Effect of wound closure on buccal mucosal graft harvest site morbidity: Results of a randomized prospective trial (urology 2012;79:443-448). Urology 2012;80:741-2.