Uterine tube

A.Prof Frank Gaillard et al.

The uterine tube, also known as fallopian tube, bridges between the ovary and the uterus and functions to convey the ovum between the two. If conception occurs, it does so within the tube. It can be affected by a wide range of pathology. 

The uterine tube is approximately 10-12 cm long and 1-4 mm in diameter. It bridges the gap between the ovary laterally, and the uterus medially. Through it, the ovum passes into the uterine cavity. The peritoneal reflection draping over the salpinges forms the mesosalpinx.

The uterine tube is divided into several anatomic segments (from lateral to medial):

  • fimbriae: these drape over the ovary and are composed of ~25 finger-like projections 
  • infundibulum: funnel-shaped lateral part that drapes over the ovary with the fimbriae:
    • it opens into the peritoneal cavity at the abdominal ostium
  • ampulla: the widest and longest section forming over half the length
  • isthmus: immediately lateral to the uterus, is as the name suggests, the narrowest segment
  • interstitial or intramural segment: section within the myometrium

Content pending.

  • arterial supply: tubal branch of the ovarian artery and terminal (tubal) branch of the uterine artery
  • venous drainage: similarly named veins

Lymph drainage is predominantly laterally and up to the para-aortic lymph nodes (like the ovaries).

  • ovarian and uterine plexuses (from T11-L1)

Like many other muscular hollow tubes it has two layers of muscle (inner circular, outer longitudinal), and is lined by columnar epithelium, a mixture of ciliated and non ciliated. It is the former that 'beat' the ovum towards the uterus. 

The normal uterine tubes are not visualized at cross-sectional imaging unless they are outlined by fluid. In the presence of peritoneal fluid or contrast material, the uterine tubes appear as paired, thin, serpentine juxta-uterine structures extending either anteriorly or posteriorly into the cul-de-sac.

Plain radiograph

Contrast studies can be completed by performing a hysterosalpingogram (HSG)

The fallopian tube is an epopnymous term, named after Gabriel Fallopius. He was an Italian anatomist (1523-62), and the same anatomist who gave his name to the Fallopian ligament and the Fallopian canal. Despite the eponym, the word "fallopian" is most often used in lower case.

Abdominal and pelvic anatomy
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Article information

rID: 1325
Section: Anatomy
Tags: pelvis, cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Fallopian tube
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Uterine tubes

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Cases and figures

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    Normal hysterosal...
    Case 1: normal appearance on HSG
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