Uterine tube

The uterine tube, also known as the fallopian tube, is a paired structure that bridges between each ovary and the uterus and functions to convey the mature ovum from the former to the latter. If conception occurs, it normally 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: ~25 finger-like projections that drape over the ovary
  • infundibulum: a funnel-shaped lateral part that drapes over the ovary with the fimbriae emanating from it
    • 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, it is the narrowest segment, as its name suggests
  • interstitial or intramural segment: the section within the myometrium

The extrauterine part of the uterine tube courses between the two folds of the broad ligament, at its superior aspect 5

  • at its medial end, the interstitial segment is continuous with the uterotubal junction, a continuation of the of the endometrial cavity
  • at its lateral end, the infundibulum opens into the peritoneal cavity
  • 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 a mixture of ciliated and non-ciliated columnar epithelium. It is the former that pushes the ovum towards the uterus. 

The normal uterine tube is not visualized at cross-sectional imaging unless it is 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.

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

The fallopian tube is named after Gabriel Fallopius, an Italian anatomist (1523-62). He is 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 tubes
  • Fallopian tube
  • Uterine tubes
  • Oviduct
  • Oviducts

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Cases and figures

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    Case 1: normal appearance on HSG
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