Corpus luteum

The corpus luteum is a temporary endocrine structure involved in ovulation and early pregnancy.

During ovulation, the primary follicle forms the secondary follicle and subsequently the mature vesicular follicle.

At ovulation the follicle ruptures expelling the ovum into the fallopian tube.

The remnants of the follicle are called the corpus luteum and ranges from 2-5 cm. As it matures, it involutes. The corpus luteum produces oestrogen and progesterone, maintaining optimum conditions for implantation if the ovum is fertilised:

  • fertilised: the corpus luteum continues to produce these hormones and maximises the chance of implantation into the endometrium; it reaches a maximum size at ~10 weeks and finally resolves at around 16-20 weeks
  • not fertilised: the corpus luteum involutes and turns into a corpus albicans by around 2 weeks

May be seen as a thick walled cyst with characteristic "ring of fire" peripheral vascularity.

General considerations include:

The term "corpus luteum" is derived from the Latin meaning "yellow body" where "corpus" means body and "luteum" means yellow.

Abdominal and pelvic anatomy
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Article information

rID: 9041
System: Gynaecology
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Corpora lutea

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Cases and figures

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    "Ring of fire" ar...
    Case 1: classic "ring of fire" appearance
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    Fig. 1

Normal co...
    Case 2: corpus luteum on MRI
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