Rectouterine pouch

The rectouterine pouch (TA: excavatio rectouterina 3), also known as the rectovaginal pouch, cul-de-sac or pouch of Douglas, is an extension of peritoneum between the posterior wall of uterus and the rectum in females. It is the most dependant part of the peritoneal cavity and is analogous to the rectovesical pouch in males.

  • anteriorly: uterus, posterior fornix of the vagina
  • posteriorly: rectum
  • inferiorly: peritoneal rectovaginal fold

Being the most dependant and lower area of the peritoneal cavity of females in the supine position, fluids (e.g. abscess, infection, ascites, haemoperitoneum, and even intraperitoneal drop metastases) preferentially collects here.

A small amount of homogeneous and low-attenuated fluid in the rectouterine pouch is normally seen in child-bearing age women.

The pouch is useful in end-stage renal failure patients, where it is a preferred place for peritoneal dialysis. The distal end of the tenckhoff catheter is placed in the pouch, and occasionally sutured to the bladder to avoid migration. 

It is named after the Scottish anatomist James Douglas (1675–1742) 2.

Anatomy: Abdominopelvic

Anatomy: Abdominopelvic

Article information

rID: 27118
System: Urogenital
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Excavatio rectouterina
  • Ehrhardt–Cole cul-de-sac
  • Posterior cul-de-sac
  • Douglas cul-de-sac
  • Douglas space
  • Douglas cavity
  • Douglas pouch
  • Recto-vaginal pouch
  • Utero-rectal pouch
  • Uterorectal pouch
  • Recto-uterine extracavation
  • Rectouterine extracavation
  • Cavum Douglasi
  • Pouch of Douglas
  • Rectovaginal pouch
  • Cul-de-sac
  • Recto-uterine pouch
  • Ehrhardt-Cole recess
  • Douglasi cavum

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.