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Table of Contents
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 314-316  

Median raphe cyst of the penis: A startling diagnosis for the unaccustomed clinician

1 Department of Pathology, Lokmanya Tilak Muncipal Medical College, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Pathology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Puducherry, India
3 Department of Surgery, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Puducherry, India

Date of Submission16-Aug-2018
Date of Acceptance20-Mar-2019
Date of Web Publication15-Jul-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sheena Alphones
Department of Pathology, Lokmanya Tilak Muncipal Medical College, Sion, Mumbai - 400 022, Maharashtra
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DOI: 10.4103/UA.UA_92_18

PMID: 31413513

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Penile median raphe cysts are uncommon lesions occurring predominantly in the ventral aspect of the glans penis of young men. In most patients, the cysts, which are asymptomatic or unrecognized during childhood, may progress later and become symptomatic during adolescence or adulthood. A differential diagnosis must be made from other penile skin lesions such as glomus tumors, dermoid cysts, pilonidal cysts, epidermal inclusion cysts, urethral diverticula, and steatocystomas that originate in the genital region. The usual treatment is complete surgical excision. We are presenting a case of a penile median raphe cyst which presented in a middle-aged adult.

Keywords: Median raphe cyst, penile diseases, penis

How to cite this article:
Alphones S, Phansalkar M, Manoharan P. Median raphe cyst of the penis: A startling diagnosis for the unaccustomed clinician. Urol Ann 2019;11:314-6

How to cite this URL:
Alphones S, Phansalkar M, Manoharan P. Median raphe cyst of the penis: A startling diagnosis for the unaccustomed clinician. Urol Ann [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Oct 19];11:314-6. Available from: https://www.urologyannals.com/text.asp?2019/11/3/314/262676

   Introduction Top

Median raphe cysts are rarely seen cysts that develop from the median raphe in the male external genital region. Although these cysts were first identified decades ago,  cases have been reported to date, mostly in case reports with ᝿ cases reported in the Indian subcontinent. Histopathological linings for these cysts should be distinguished from apocrine cystadenomas, mucinous cysts, and epidermal cysts. Clinicians and pathologists acquainted with these infrequent cysts having typical localization are in favored position to clinch the diagnosis and elucidate the still enigmatic genesis of these cysts.[1]

   Case Report Top

A 36-year-old male noticed a swelling on his penis for the past 3 months. It was not painful. He had no history of burning micturition. There was no history of discharge per urethra or fever. On examination, it was a cystic swelling present in the foreskin of the penis on the ventral aspect and close to the frenulum. Under local anesthesia, circumcision was performed.

Excised skin-covered tissue measured 8 cm × 1.5 cm × 0.3 cm with a cystic swelling in the center measuring 0.5 cm in diameter. On cutting open the cyst, it let out pus-like material. Cyst wall thickness was 0.1 cm with inner cyst wall appearing gray white.

Microscopy showed skin-lined tissue with a cyst in the dermis lined by flattened to cuboidal to stratified cuboidal benign epithelium [Figure 1] and [Figure 2]. Lumen contained no material. Surrounding subepithelial tissue showed chronic inflammatory infiltrate. Based on the site and histological features, a diagnosis of median raphe cyst of the penis was given.
Figure 1: Skin-lined tissue with a cyst lined by cuboidal epithelium (H and E, ×10)

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Figure 2: Stratified cuboidal epithelium noted at few foci of the cyst (H and E, ×40)

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   Discussion Top

Median raphe cysts are cysts that develop on the median line in the male genital region in any area from the anus to the external meatus.[2]

Median raphe cysts mostly present at birth and may remain asymptomatic or ignored during childhood. As the patient grows older, the cyst may also progress slowly. Later in adolescence or adulthood, the cyst may appear as a solitary and movable cystic nodule on the ventral surface of the penis. Although they are referred to as “median raphe cysts,” they can also present as cord-like or canaliform indurations on the median raphe, which are very rare. These unusual cysts are brought forward to the clinician by the parents during childhood, or they show up later in their 20s and 30s because they developed symptoms (infections or trauma), or mostly for cosmetic reasons. Thus, it gives a bimodal pattern of presentation. The differential diagnosis that the clinician should be keep in mind is glomus tumor, dermoid cyst, pilonidal cyst, epidermal inclusion cyst, urethral diverticulum, and steatocystoma. A well-informed clinician can make the diagnosis based on the characteristics of the cysts & based on the site, i.e., along the midline of ventral side of the male genital area from the urethral meatus to the anus and the perineum.

There are several possible explanations for the origin of these cysts. The first possible cause is embryologic defective closure of the median raphe. The second theory put forward is anomalous development of ectopic periurethral glands of Littre. The third theory, hypothesized by Paslin, is an anomalous sprouting and subsequent separation of the urethral columnar epithelium from the urethra.[3]

Previous studies have shown four histopathological types of median raphe cysts. These include urethral, epidermoid, glandular, and mixed. The most common type of lining is urethral type which has stratified layers of uniform small cells overlaid by columnar epithelium, resembling urothelial lining. Epidermoid type contains stratified squamous epithelium, whereas glandular type contains intraepithelial glandular structures within the urothelial lining. Mixed type is the second most common cysts and contains more than one type of epithelium.[1]

The present case showed cyst lined by flattened to cuboidal to stratified cuboidal benign epithelium which is the urethral type.

Treatment should be considered for the symptomatic lesions and for cosmetic purposes. The treatment options include a wide local excision and aspiration if the patient is not willing to undergo surgery.[4] Aspiration alone is not recommended.

Unaccompanied clinical details and unambiguous clinical suspicion with multifarious histopathological picture of this rare type of penile cyst may even confound a well-trained pathologist.

In this case report, the clinician did not include median raphe cyst in their differentials. This highlights ever more the eminence of knowledge of median raphe cysts.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Shao I, Chen T, Shao H, Chen H. Male median raphe cysts : Serial retrospective analysis and histopathological classification. Diagn Pathol 2012;7:1-5.  Back to cited text no. 1
Deliktas H, Sahin H, Celik OI, Erdogan O. Median raphe cyst of the penis. Urol J 2015;20:2287-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
Urahashi J, Hara H, Yamaguchi Z, Morishima T. Pigmented median raphe cysts of the penis. Acta Derm Venereol 2000;80:297-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
Amaranathan A, Sinhasan SP, Dasiah SD. Median raphe cysts of the prepucial skin, with triple histological linings: A case report and review of the literature. J Clin Diagn Res 2013;7:1466-8.  Back to cited text no. 4


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


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