Tubularized urethral replacement with unseeded matrices: What is the maximum distance for normal tissue regeneration?

Ryan P. Dorin, Hans G. Pohl, Roger E. De Filippo, James J. Yoo, Anthony Atala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Purpose: Complete urethral replacement using unseeded matrices has been proposed as a possible therapy in cases of congenital or acquired anomalies producing significant defects. Tissue regeneration involves fibrin deposition, re-epithelialization, and remodeling that are limited by the size of the defect. Scar formation occurs because of an inability of native cells to regenerate over the defect before fibrosis takes place. We investigated the maximum potential distance of normal native tissue regeneration over a range of distances using acellular matrices for tubular grafts as an experimental model. Materials and methods: Tubularized urethroplasties were performed in 12 male rabbits using acellular matrices of bladder submucosa at varying lengths (0.5, 1, 2, and 3 cm). Serial urethrography was performed at 1, 3, and 4 weeks. Animals were sacrificed at 1, 3, and 4 weeks and the grafts harvested. Urothelial and smooth muscle cell regeneration was documented histologically with H&E and Masson's trichrome stains. Results: Urethrograms demonstrated normal urethral calibers in the 0.5 cm group at all time points. The evolution of a stricture was demonstrated in the 1, 2, and 3 cm grafts by 4 weeks. Histologically all grafts demonstrated ingrowth of urothelial cells from the anastomotic sites at 1 week. By 4 weeks, the 0.5 cm grafts had a normal transitional layer of epithelium surrounded by a layer of muscle within the wall of the urethral lumen. The 1, 2, and 3 cm grafts showed ingrowth and normal cellular regeneration only at the anastomotic edges with increased collagen deposition and fibrosis toward the center by 2 weeks, and dense fibrin deposition throughout the grafts by 4 weeks. Conclusions: The maximum defect distance suitable for normal tissue formation using acellular grafts that rely on the native cells for tissue regeneration appears to be 0.5 cm. The indications for the use of acellular matrices in tubularized grafts may therefore be limited by the size of the defect to be repaired.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-326
Number of pages4
JournalWorld journal of urology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 7 2008


  • Collagen
  • Fibrosis
  • Hypospadius
  • Tissue engineering
  • Transitional epithelium
  • Urethral stricture
  • Urethroplasty
  • Urothelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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