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Uterine tube

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Understand the histological structure of the uterine tube.
  2. Identify its parts under the microscope.

Browse atlas

The uterine tubes, also known as the oviducts or Fallopian tubes, are paired tubes joined to the uterus and extending towards the ovaries. From distal to proximal, each uterine tube can be divided into four parts: the infundibulum, the ampulla, the isthmus and the uterine part.

  • The infundibulum is funnel shaped and presents an opening into the peritoneal cavity (abdominal ostium), which enables entry of the ovum at ovulation. Fimbriae, fringed projections of this part, extend towards the ovary.
  • The ampulla is the longest part of the uterine tube and serves as the site of fertilization of the ovum.
  • The isthmus is a narrow part of the uterine tube and located adjacent to the uterus.
  • The uterine (or intramural) part is found within the myometrium of the uterus and opens into the uterine cavity.

Histologically, the wall of the uterine tube consists of a serosa, primarily composed of mesothelium and connective tissue, a muscular layer, which is further divided into an inner, relatively thick circular layer and an outer thinner longitudinal layer and lastly a mucosa, which demonstrates thin longitudinal folds that project into the lumen of the uterine tube. The mucosa is lined with simple columnar epithelium with two types of cells: ciliated epithelial and nonciliated epithelial cells.

The uterine tube and its epithelial lining undergo cyclical changes along with those of the uterus, in response to changes in hormonal levels. During the follicular phase, the epithelial cells undergo cyclic hypertrophy, while during the luteal phase they tend to atrophy.

Ready to review all these structures in further detail? Browse our image gallery below:

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