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A meatotomy is the splitting the underside of the glans of the penis, to open the urethra further. Most of the time, a meatotomy is performed as a surgical procedure to help alleviate a medical condition, though some men choose to have an elective procedure for aesthetic or sexual purposes. If a type of penile piercing, known as a Prince Albert, is accidentally torn, an unintended split in the glans can result.
Meatal stenosis is a condition that causes a narrowing of the urethra at the end of the penis. This condition is most common in babies whose penises are irritated from urine in their diapers. Though meatal stenosis does not usually cause major complications, it can lead to more difficulty urinating as the child ages. A meatotomy is usually performed to widen the urethra in the case of meatal stenosis or other medical conditions that make it difficult for patients to urinate.
Meatotomies are usually done on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. The surgeon applies a numbing cream to the end of the penis, covers it with a clear dressing, and makes a small slit in the tip of the penis. The entire procedure usually takes less than an hour.
Most patients who have a meatotomy due to a medical condition heal quickly with very few problems or complications. Patients can return to normal activities the day after surgery, in most cases. Slight pain and discomfort after surgery is normal and can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. The penis is typically kept uncovered after the procedure, and antibiotic ointment is usually applied inside the incision twice a day for the first two weeks.
Some patients may experience heavy bleeding, swelling, or intense pain following surgery. Though the penis generally heals quickly, patients who experience any of these symptoms should report them to their doctors, or seek medical attention as soon as possible. While a low-grade fever is common following surgery, a high fever or one that persists for more than a day could be a sign of an infection. Pus at the surgical site, and redness near the incision are other signs of infection that should be examined by a doctor.
An accidental meatotomy resulting from a torn piercing or other injury should be examined by a doctor. Surgical intervention is rarely necessary, but patients who accidentally split the tip of the penis may require medical monitoring to prevent infection and further tearing.